agar-agar the Malay name for a gum which was discovered in Japan. The name originally applied to a mucilage extracted from a red seaweed of the genus Eucheuma. This was in use only locally. The type of Japanese agar-agar which is important both in Japanese cooking and worldwide comes from red algae of the genus Gelidium. This gum, known in Japan itself as kanten, is referred to by many names, including grass jelly and seaweed jelly, also Japanese or vegetable gelatin (although true gelatin is an animal product).