Agar-agar is actually a type of seaweed. You can buy it in powder form or in seaweed strips. I usually use powdered agar for convenience and we use a lot of agar-agar in Southeast Asia for desserts.
However, I have recently discovered that you can use agar-agar strips in salads, just like seaweed. This is something new to me because agar has always been used for making desserts. Apparently in Southern China and Taiwan, agar strips in salad is quite a common appetizer. After all, it is a type of seaweed.
So here it is, tried and tested, my agar seaweed salad.
Agar Seaweed Salad
- agar-agar strips, soaked in water
- garlic, chopped
- fresh chillies or chilli powder
- sesame seeds
- 2-3 tbsp hot oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp black vinegar
- salt and sugar, to taste
The agar strips gives a crunchy and refreshing texture to salads. It is almost like glass noodles, but crunchy. And since it is neutral in taste, the agar-agar does not alter the salad taste in any way.
1) Cut agar-agar into 2-3 inch strips and soak in water for about an hour or so. Let it absorb water to plump up.
2) Put some chopped garlic, chilies, and sesame seed in a bowl. Heat 2-3 tbsp of hot cooking oil and pour it directly into this mixture. Add some soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar and a little salt and sugar to taste. Let the dressing cool.
3) Cut some jicama, carrots, cucumber and coriander into strips. Mix the soaked agar-agar strips together and add the salad dressing.
My Agar Easter Eggs
Agar-agar pudding is so easy to make and super refreshing for the tropical weather. Compared with gelatine, agar-agar can set at warm temperatures of 35-45 degrees Celcius, making it perfect for tropical weather. Plus, it only takes a few minutes to solidify, unlike gelatine which requires chilling at low temperatures over a longer period of time. So this year I decided to use the agar-agar pudding recipe to make agar Easter eggs. Please refer to my video on Agar Easter Eggs for further instructions.
I use the blue pea flower moss pudding recipe to make blue marbled eggs. Moss pudding is a popular agar-agar pudding recipe in Indonesia. This recipe uses eggs in the agar mixture. When boiled, the egg separates from the mixture to form lumps of protein, creating a marbled effect against the blue liquid.
Blue Marble Eggs (makes about 12-15 egg shells):
- 3.5 tsp agar agar powder
- 100g sugar 125ml coconut milk
- 550ml water
- 100ml blue pea flower water (about 20 flowers)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- the more blue pea flower you use, the darker the blue colour
- keep stirring the mixture when you start to boil it. This is to prevent the eggs from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stop stirring after 2-3 minutes, when you start to see the egg proteins form. Leave it to boil on its own. Too much stirring can cause the egg solids to turn into really small pieces, losing the marble layers.
The other Easter egg agar-agar recipe I created is golden osmanthus eggs using osmanthus flowers. It’s basically making an agar-agar and osmanthus tea mixture and getting it to set. The trick is getting the flowers spread out over the egg instead of all clumping at the bottom. I do this by letting the agar mixture set in 2 layers. Since the osmanthus flowers sink to the bottom, letting the first layer set before pouring the next layer gives you another flower layer somewhere in the middle. It takes about 15 minutes for the agar to set. So experiment by pouring in different amounts of flowers and layers to get the effect you want.
Golden Osmanthus Eggs (makes about 6 egg shells):
- 350ml water
- 1 tsp agar agar powder
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried osmanthus flowers
- while waiting for the agar in your mould to set, make sure your remaining agar mixture is kept warm. Put it over a hot water bath or keep it somewhere warm. If it cools down too rapidly, it will set
- you can set the agar in 3 layers if you want to spread out the flowers even more