Here’s another recipe that calls for kanten, a gelatin extracted from sea vegetation. I knew from previous kitchen experience with kanten that the chemistry of this substance was very different from that of ordinary gelatin, and when I was in Hawaii I decided to try it with fresh pineapple. It gelled! Another advantage of kanten over Western gelling powders is its ability to gel at room temperature. Although most fruit-flavored gelatins taste best when chilled, kanten doesn’t have to be refrigerated to get it to gel. This means that dishes made with it won’t “weep” when removed from the refrigerator, either. Kanten unmolds easily from any smooth-sided container, but here I’ve made use of crinkly foil muffin liners to add an interesting textural effect.
Tear the dried gelatin stick into several pieces and soak in a bowl of water to cover for 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan, combine the cup of cold water with the sugar. Stirring, heat the mixture until the sugar melts completely.
Squeeze the softened gelatin as you remove it from the water. The gelatin will now be very spongy and will shred easily. Add the shreds to the sugar syrup. To save every bit of kanten gelatin, strain the soaking water through a fine-meshed sieve and add any salvaged bits to the sugar syrup. Cook the gelatin mixture for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring, to melt the gelatin thoroughly.
Remove from the heat and stir in the pureed pineapple. Line six muffin tins with foil liners and pour the pineapple mixture into the foil cups. Lance any large bubbles that appear on the surface. Allow the gelatin to stand at room temperature until cool and solidified (about ½ hour).
Chill the gelatin for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. When ready to serve, remove the foil liners from the cups and invert each on a serving plate. Peel the foil away.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.