In Chinese medicine, seaweed is thought to cool the body, making this dessert a great antidote to the “hot” treatments of chemo and radiation. Kanten is a wonderful introduction to seaweed, in the form of agar-agar, if you are not ready to deal with the overpowering taste of the ocean so often associated with sea vegetables. Kanten is tasteless and used in Japan and China to make jellies. This dessert is both easy to make and good to eat, and is a perfect way to get fruit and minerals into neutropenic, bland, and vegan diets. The scented flavor of rosemary complements the sweetness of the blueberries to perfection. Kanten is usually quite firm, but by using the method below, it can be a sweetly soft, a nutritious way to eat fruit. Give it a try.
1. In a small saucepan, bring the apple juice to a gentle simmer. Stir in the agar-age over a low heat until completely melted. Pour the mixture into small shallow baking dish and let cool slightly. Transfer to the fridge until it hardens into a jelly, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cut into squares with a knife and set aside.
2. While the agar-agar sets, in the same saucepan, combine the blueberries, still frozen, with the sugar and 1 tablespoon of water. Bring to a boil over a medium heat then simmer partially covered until the fruit is soft, and a light syrup has formed, about 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside in a bowl to cool.
3. Put the rosemary and one or two spoonfuls of the cooked blueberries into the blender. Pulse until the rosemary has liquidized. Add the cubes of agar-agar along with the rest of the blueberries. Blend until you have the consistency of applesauce. Transfer to the fridge and serve chilled sprinkled with toasted almonds and either yogurt or almond cream.
Ann's Tips and Tricks
Agar-agar is seaweed, so like its stronger tasting cousins it is rich in iodine and minerals. You should be able to find it in natural food stores or Asian markets.
Agar-agar sets as soon as it cools – it doesn’t need chilling like gelatin. It won’t set however if you mix it with citrus, so add any lemon or orange juice or zest afterwards in the blender.