Since it is summer here and the heat is unbearable, I made this drink to cool me down. It just so happened that I found this pack of agar agar in my pantry while looking for something else. Winner!
|Agar agar in green|
Before I wrote this post, I started doing some reading about agar agar. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, it is a gelatin-like product made primarily from algae. In the Philippines, they are sold in bar form, and when boiled, will resemble gelatin. Of course, Jell-O brand was also available, but agar (or "gulaman" in the vernacular) is cheaper and healthier - it is made from sea weeds. Or at least that was what we've been told.
|Tapioca Pearls from New York! ;-)|
What you need:
2 bars of agar agar
1 cup tapioca pearls
1/2 teaspoon of white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
What to do:
Prep the agar agar by tearing it in small pieces and soaking it in cold water for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the tapioca pearls by boiling them in about 2 cups of water for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your pearls. If they start getting translucent (but you can still see a white spot in the middle), lower the heat to a simmer until they are completely translucent.
Transfer them to a fine-mesh colander and rinse with water to remove starch. Place in a container and set aside.
Heat 4 cups of water in a pot. Add the drained agar agar pieces and let dissolve over low heat. Add 1/2 teaspoon white sugar and cook, stirring continuously. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until agar agar is completely dissolved. Strain and pour into a rectangular mold (or pan). Cool for about an hour, then refrigerate until set. Before using, remove from mold and cut into small squares.
To prepare the syrup, combine brown sugar and water in a pot over low heat. Add in vanilla extract. Stir every few minutes so sugar won't stick on the bottom of the pot. When sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and let cool.
To make the drink, spoon some tapioca pearls and agar agar into a tall glass. Add about 4 tablespoons of syrup and water. Enjoy!
Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:
1. Add less water or more syrup according to the sweetness you prefer.
2. For a really cool drink, top the pearls and agar with shaved ice, then pour syrup in it. Voila!