Kanten goodness19 October, 2010 by Yan
One of the perks of having themed super-mart fairs is the chance to sample unique items that are not normally available. One of my favorite pastimes is scouting for unusual sweets and the recent Okinawa fair at the Isetan supermarket has indeed brought some surprises, which I happily bought without much hesitation. Here with me are kantengashi sweets that are flavored with native Okinawa fruits, shikwasa and pineapple flavors.
Firstly, the word “Kanten” might be a little alien to those who are not so familiar with Japanese stuff. But I can assure you, most Asians are definitely familiar with this ingredient. Does Agar-agar sounds more familiar (at least to Singaporeans that is)?
In truth, Kanten/Agar is a a vegetarian gelatin substitute, that could be used for a variety of purpose like a thickener for soups, making jellies, ice cream and other desserts. Though its more normal to see fresh agar desserts in Singapore, Japan has made their kanten into convenient bite sized snacks that are flavored with whatever special fruits they can lay their hands on.
While the cube you see on the picture might looks a little surreal, it feels perfectly normal as a dessert snack once you’ve taken a bite. It’s not as soft a texture than I had imagined, but is not so different from the usual jelly candies that are more commonly found. The greatest perk of munching on these little candies is the fact that they contain less sweetness than the usual sweets and are better for your health. Kanten contains approximately 80% fiber, so it can serve as an intestinal regulator too. This quality of Kanten is behind one of the latest diet fads in Asia, the kanten diet.
Addicted to film, Yan shoots with a black Nikon Fm3a. For special occasions, Yan shoots with a Mamiya Sekor TLR.