I love simple dessert recipes – especially in this day and age where everyone is busy, has a full time job and not having much time to cook, let alone make dessert! We don’t usually have much dessert after meals and they are usually a treat. The most frequent “dessert” that I remember eating in our family are fruits! Imagine my surprise knowing that Westerners have dessert (cakes, pastries, tarts) after meals most of the time 🙂
Sometimes, asian desserts are not too difficult to make, especially with modern technology and how everything comes in packets! I got this agar-agar recipe from a book that I picked up during one of my travels back home to Malaysia. Many times, I crave home made or bought kuihs and dessert so I thought that I’d try my hand at some of the local delicacies.
I’ve chosen to make the Pandan Agar-Agar because it was quite a simple recipe and once you’re done, all you have to do is store it in the fridge and forget about it until dessert time comes! “Agar-agar” is from the Malay word meaning “jelly”, and is a tasteless dried seaweed. It is used in many Malaysian desserts and is usually sold in small packets of white powder (but I was told, that it can also come in bars, strips or flakes). Interesting fact about “agar” from Wikipedia – when it’s not used for desserts, it is used as an agent for growth of bacteria or fungi (like in a petri dish) because ” microbial growth does not destroy the gel structure because most microorganisms are unable to digest agar.” NO WAY! Interesting for a noob like me anyway!
Back to the dessert!
500ml (2 cups) water
3 tsp agar agar powder
120g white sugar
100 ml Pandanus Juice
(above made out of 7-8 Pandan leaves and 100 ml water)
120 ml thick coconut milk
1 egg (beaten)
Making the Pandanus Juice
We had to use frozen Pandan Leaves that we bought from our local oriental store and they come vacuum packed. Sadly beggars can’t be choosers, but if you do have access to fresh ones (Melbournians!), use them!
Pick about 7-8 leaves, wash them and cut them into 2cm pieces. Then put them into a blender (NOT a food processor! Once again, learnt the hard way) with 150ml water and blend well and until completely pulverized. Then strain the mixture through a fine sieve and push out the juice as required. Discard the solids. This should give you about 100 ml of pandanus juice.
Making the Pandan Agar-agar
- Combine the water, agar-agar powder and sugar in a pan and heat until its boiling. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue unitl the powder completely dissolves which will take about 10-15 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine the Pandanus Juice, coconut milk and beaten egg together. Mix well.
- Pour the Pandan mixture into the agar-agar mixture in the pan and stir constantly until it comes back to a roiling boil. Once it reaches that point, remove the pan from the heat and pour it into a glass dish or cake pan (approx 16cm across).
- Set aside to cool completely. Then, place in the refridgerator to chill and set completely. You’d know that it’s completely set when it’s firm when you press down on it with a finger.
- Then cut it into any shape that you want! I used cookie cutters for mine 🙂 But you could, of course just cut it the quentessentially asian way by cutting diamond shapes.
I like how it automatically sets in 2 layers, makes it preetier…
It’s a really easy dessert to make and eat – it’s not too sweet and you could just pop a few in without even thinking about it 🙂 This plate was gone in about 5 minutes!