My mom called me up last night and said she would bring me some home-made tokoroten today when she comes to Kochi city for a tea ceremony meeting. I met her in front of a train station this afternoon to receive a tiny cooler box with tokoroten and bunch of ice cubes and coolants stuffed inside.
So what the heck is tokoroten anyway? OK, it’s jelly-like noodles… or should I say noodle-like jelly, or maybe, agar noodles?
To make home-made tokoroten, you first need to get dried tengusa, a type of seaweed. (Of course it's easier to use dried kanten-bars or kanten powders. They are dried form of gelatin from the seaweed.) Well, my mom really made the tokoroten from scratch this time; she picked tengusa seaweed every time she went to the beach this summer, dried it and kept it somewhere in the house for about a month. She really loves doing things like that, but I do hope she stored the dried tengusa somewhere far away from kitchen this summer …because it really STINKS!!
(The photo shows someone's tengusa bing dried, not my mom's.)
To make tokoroten from scratch, you soak dried tengusa in water first, and then boil it in water to which a little vinegar added. When the water thickens with the gelatin from the seaweed, strain it to remove the seaweed and pour the glue-like soup into a vat and refrigerate. I read somewhere that leaving it at room temperature to let it settle makes better-tasting tokoroten, but I don’t know if it’s true or not.
This is the tokoroten I got from mom today. Now I'll show you how to make these tokoroten chunks into noodles.
To do that, you need a special devise.
As you can probably figure out from the way this devise looks, the process is pretty straightforward.
You slip a tokoroten jelly chunk into this device
and push it with the bar with a flat top.
You can eat tokoroten noodles with either sweet sauce or soy-vinegar sauce. I like soy-vinegar version better, with a bit of grated ginger and aonori ( green laver) maybe?
This summer, tokoroten became suddenly popular throughout Japan and almost all the stores ran out of this summer food at one point. The reason was (I think) a TV show that introduces healthy foods and health tips every week. A few months ago, it featured tokoroten as a zero-calorie diet food which also reduces blood sugar, cholesterol, body fat and blood pressure, and raises basal metabolism. People rushed to the stores right after.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t take what this TV show introduces at face value any more since the spring before. They said that eating yogurt and mackerel and drinking sweet Chinese tea would prevent cedar allergy (or reduce its symptoms), and I had them almost every day for good two months or so. And I ended up having real bad allergy symptoms that spring. So I don’t really expect to be super-healthy tomorrow morning, but it doesn't ruin my pleasure of enjoying the interesting texture of the noodles.
Thanks mom. This tokoroten was just a little bit too soft for me, but pretty tasty! :D
Friday, August 26, 2005
Posted by obachan at 8/26/2005 12:11:00 AM