Looking for a quirky yet insanely easy dessert recipe? Try this amazing Coconut Agar Agar Jelly, known in Laos as Vun. These sweet little South East Asian desserts are filled with coconut and pandan flavour, just perfect for a work or kids snack.
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Today was such a spectacular day. We had the first real sunshine in weeks, felt warmth on our faces and enjoyed the smells of flowers and new growth in the air… Spring has fiiiiinally arrived. Sarah’s spent almost every weekend through the winter tending our little veggie garden out the back, and now we’re starting to see the results. So naturally, we’re thinking about all the delicious ways we can cook our harvested goodies. Roasted heirloom carrots… sautéed brussels sprouts… stuffed capsicums… the list goes on. Somehow a random patch of coriander sprang up too! We have no idea how he got there – it feels like we planted coriander everywhere EXCEPT that spot and it always died – but the little guy sure is welcome join to our spring table. 🍃
We’re in love with bright mornings full of golden sunshine, and evening light that lasts beyond knockoff time. There’s more time for those long, peaceful evening walks to admire the streaky golden clouds in the sky, and time to sink into personal projects like this one. After months of huddling under blankets and clutching hot mugs of tea, it makes for a very nice change! ☀️
Coconut Agar Agar Jelly – Laotian Vun
Today’s recipe was inspired by our trip through Laos. True, we ate just about every colourful dessert imaginable on our journeys through lots of South East Asian countries, (including this quirky Lao PUMPKIN Coconut Custard) but these coconut agar agar jelly cubes were just about the cutest ever. Not only do they have a delicately sweet, ever-so-slightly salty coconut goodness going on, they’ve also got a cool visual effect too. Made with vegetarian agar powder instead of gelatin, the jelly separates into two distinctly gorgeous layers when cooling. Pretty neat, huh! ☺️
So why agar? And what the heck is it anyway? Well:
- Agar (sometimes known as agar agar) is extracted from a South East Asian seaweed!
- It’s a vegetarian substitute for gelatin
- Agar agar jelly sets more firmly than jelly made with gelatin, and will even set at room temperature – although it should still be stored in the fridge
- Agar is packed with fibre, yet surprisingly has zero carbs, calories, sugar or fat (talk about guilt free!)
Also we just want to quickly point out – our Coconut Agar Agar Jelly turned bright green because, unbeknownst to us, our agar agar powder was blended with green food colouring! Otherwise, it’s normally clear/uncoloured. 😅
Feel like giving your Coconut Agar Agar Jelly a personal touch? Here are a few ideas to get you experimenting!
- Add more sugar or salt for extra deliciousness
- Pour in a few drops of flavour essence like rose water, or food dyes for quirky colours.
- Use cookie cutters or silicone jelly moulds for quirky shapes like stars and flowers
So have you ever used agar agar to make jelly before? If so, where did you come across it first? What’s your favourite way to make jelly? 😋 👌🏼
Coconut Agar Agar Jelly - Lao Vun
- 400 g can coconut cream in 200x200g portions
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 14 g agar agar powder
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pandan essence optional
Yum, it's jelly time! Start by pouring half your coconut milk into a small mixing bowl. Crack in the egg and give it a really good whisk to incorporate.
Meanwhile heat the water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the agar agar powder and give it a swirl to mix through. Slowly pour in your coconut milk and egg mixture and stir. Gently bring to the boil and keep stirring. Then slowly add your remaining coconut milk.
Next, pour in the sugar, salt and pandan essence (optional). Taste the mixture, but be careful not to burn your tongue! If it's not sweet enough, you can add more sugar, or an extra sprinkle of salt or pandan essence til you're happy with the flavour.
Cook and stir for a few more minutes, then remove from the heat.
Pour the mixture out into large glass dishes (or jelly moulds, if using). Skim any bubbles off the surface so your jelly will set nice and smooth. Allow the jelly cool on your kitchen bench for an hour or so (and be sure to check out those layers!). Once set, cut the jelly into shapes and serve.
NotesIf using agar agar flakes, use the conversion ratio of 1 tsp powder to 1 Tbsp flakes.
Store your jelly in the fridge for up to a week.