Tokoroten is a very popular and traditional Japanese dish and it’s essentially simple kanten (agar jelly), cut into noodles. Tokoroten itself doesn’t really have flavors, so it’s served with sauce and toppings. It’s served chilled, so people enjoy tokoroten especially during the summer. It’s often served at Japanese traditional tea/ dessert parlors, and there are also vendors specialized in serving only tokoroten! In Tokyo, where I am from, and most of eastern Japan, tokoroten is enjoyed with vinegar-soy based sauce, so the vinegar can help alleviate the fatigue while the cold temperature of the dish helps cooling down your body. Tokoroten itself has very few calories, so it’s very light yet quite satisfying. I’ve been wondering why this dish has never caught up its popularity in the US yet…so, I thought I should introduce this beloved Japanese humble dish here. With my version, the sauce includes dashi, so it’s mild with extra layer of umami flavors.
To cut the kanten into tokoroten noodles, I use a traditional tokoroten-tsuki (a traditional tool designed specifically for cutting tokoroten noodles). It’s not only very easy to use, but it’s really fun to cut noodles with this.
In Kansai (including Kyoto and Osaka) and many parts of western Japan, tokoroten is typically enjoyed with sweet syrup and served as a dessert. So, my friends from Kyoto say they think tokoroten with vinegar-soy sauce is so strange.
Vegan optionMake sauce with Kombu & Shiitake Dashi. Omit katsuobushi for the topping.
*This dish requires Tokoroten Noodle Cutter, or otherwise, you can hand-cup the jelly very thin.
*We also suggest you use Rectangular Mold with Removal Tray to set the kanten in.
Servings5 as a small appetizer or a snack
- 2 cups (500 ml) water
- 0.14 oz (4 g – highly suggest you scale by gram) kanten (agar) flakes
Dashi Vinegar Sauce
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) kombu and bonito dashi or your choice of dashi
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon usukuchi shoyu (light-colored soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon Okinawa black sugar or raw brown sugar
- Shredded nori
- Shaved katsuobushi
- Wasabi paste
- To make the kanten jelly, combine the kanten flakes and water in a sauce pan. Let the kanten flakes soak for about 1 hour or until the flakes are very soft.
- Set the sauce pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture and bring to simmer. Turn down the heat to gentle simmer, and continue to cook for 5 – 6 minutes or until the flakes are completely dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and pour the content into the rectangular mold. Let it cool down for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap (I suggest you line it with paper towel under the plastic wrap so it can absorb the steam from the kanten jelly) and let it set and chilled in refrigerator.
- Meanwhile, make the dashi vinegar sauce. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce pan, and bring to simmer over medium heat. Stir to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, chill in refrigerator.
- When the kanten jelly is chilled, remove it from the mold and cut into sticks so each can fit the tokoroten noodle cutter (I usually cut the longer side into 5 pieces).
- Gently insert a kanten jelly stick into the tokoroten noodle cutter, and push it out with its wooden stick into a bowl.
- Garnish with some shredded nori, shaved katsuobushi and wasabi paste. Pour about 2 tablespoons or more of the sauce over the noodle. Repeat the process with the remaining.
- Serve immediately.
Kanten jelly, sauce, and toppings. All the ingredients are ready to be assembled.
My beloved tokoroten jelly cutter and rectangular mold with removal tray. I highly recommend you have these equipments for your kitchen. They can be used for various dishes.
Once the kanten jelly is removed from he mold, slice into sticks.
Gently insert the jelly into the tokoroten cutter.
And, just push it out into noodles.
Vinegar-soy sauce, shredded nori, katsuobushi flakes, and wasabi paste for toppings.
Itadakimasu! Such a refreshing savory snack.