Agar-Agar Salad Recipe - A Flavorful Treat from Cambodia & China

Agar-Agar Salad

Agar-Agar Salad Recipe - A Flavorful Treat from Cambodia & China
Region / culture: Cambodia, China | Preparation time: 1 hour | Cooking time: 30 minutes | Servings: 4


Agar-Agar Salad
Agar-Agar Salad

Agar-Agar Salad is a refreshing and unique dish that combines the delicate texture of agar-agar with the crispness of fresh vegetables and the richness of eggs. This salad is perfect for those looking for a light yet satisfying meal or side dish. The combination of ingredients and the flavorful dressing make it a delightful experience for the palate. This recipe is not only easy to prepare but also offers a beautiful presentation that is sure to impress.


The use of agar-agar, a gelatinous substance obtained from algae, has its roots in Asian cuisine, particularly in Japan, where it is known as "kanten." The history of agar-agar as a culinary ingredient dates back to the 17th century. Over time, its use spread across Asia and eventually to the Western world. This Agar-Agar Salad recipe is a modern interpretation that incorporates both traditional and contemporary elements, showcasing the versatility of agar-agar in salads.



How to prepare

  1. Soak agar-agar strands in cold water for 30 minutes to one hour while preparing the rest of the salad.
  2. Wash the flowering chives and snap off any tough lower ends.
  3. Finely chop some of the stalks to yield about 3 tbsp
  4. Cut the remaining chives into bite-sized lengths and blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain and immerse in iced water to set the color.
  5. Drain the chives as soon as they are cold.
  6. Beat the eggs, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the chopped chives.
  7. Heat a heavy frying pan and cook just enough egg mixture to coat the pan with a thin layer.
  8. When the egg sheet is set but not browned, turn it onto a plate and lightly rub the pan with oil before making another sheet.
  9. Continue this process until all the egg mixture is used up.
  10. When cool, cut the egg sheets into thin strips (to make this easier, stack the egg sheets and roll them into a cylindrical shape first).
  11. Wash the bean sprouts, pinching off any straggly tails.
  12. Drain the agar-agar well and cut it into bite-sized strips.
  13. Combine all the ingredients, cover, and chill.
  14. In a bowl, whisk together the dressing, first crushing the garlic to a smooth paste with the sugar.
  15. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss, and serve.


  • For a vegetarian version, omit the eggs and add tofu strips or avocado for added protein and texture. You can also experiment with different vegetables, such as shredded carrots or sliced cucumbers, to add more color and crunch to the salad.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

To ensure the best texture for the agar-agar, soak it in cold water for at least 30 minutes to soften it before cutting it into strips. When blanching the chives, make sure to immerse them in iced water immediately after to preserve their vibrant color and crisp texture. For the egg sheets, maintain a low heat to avoid browning and achieve a tender, delicate texture. Lastly, when preparing the dressing, crushing the garlic with sugar not only helps to create a smooth paste but also mellows the garlic's sharpness.

Serving Suggestions

Agar-Agar Salad can be served as a standalone light meal or as a side dish to complement a variety of main courses. It pairs well with grilled meats, seafood, or a bowl of steamed rice for a more filling meal. For a visually appealing presentation, serve the salad in a clear bowl to showcase the colorful ingredients.

Cooking Techniques

The key techniques in this recipe include soaking and preparing the agar-agar, blanching and shocking the chives, and cooking thin egg sheets. Each technique is simple yet contributes significantly to the final texture and presentation of the dish.

Ingredient Substitutions

If peanut oil is a concern due to allergies, it can be substituted with any neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or vegetable oil. Similarly, if sesame oil is too strong, it can be reduced or omitted. For a different flavor profile, try using rice vinegar or lime juice in the dressing.

Make Ahead Tips

The components of the salad can be prepared ahead of time and stored separately in the refrigerator. Assemble and dress the salad just before serving to maintain the freshness and crispness of the ingredients.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the salad in a clear glass bowl or on a platter to highlight the layers and colors of the ingredients. Garnish with sesame seeds or chopped nuts for added texture and visual appeal.

Pairing Recommendations

This salad pairs beautifully with dishes that have bold flavors, such as grilled meats or spicy stir-fries. The freshness and crispness of the salad provide a refreshing contrast to richer, more savory dishes.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

It is best to consume the Agar-Agar Salad fresh. However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one day. Note that the texture of the agar-agar and vegetables may change upon storage.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

A serving of Agar-Agar Salad is relatively low in calories, making it an excellent choice for those looking for a light meal or side dish. The exact calorie count can vary depending on the portion size and any modifications to the recipe, but it is generally considered a low-calorie option.


This Agar-Agar Salad is relatively low in carbohydrates, with the primary sources being the bean sprouts and the small amount of sugar in the dressing. Agar-agar itself is mostly fiber, and the eggs and oils contribute minimal carbohydrates. This makes the salad an excellent choice for those monitoring their carbohydrate intake.


The fats in this salad come mainly from the peanut oil and sesame oil used in the dressing and cooking. These oils are known for their healthy fat content, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The eggs also contribute a small amount of fat, but overall, the dish remains relatively low in fat.


Eggs are the primary source of protein in this salad, making it a good option for a light protein boost. Agar-agar contains a small amount of protein, but it is not significant. The bean sprouts also contribute a minor amount of protein to the dish.

Vitamins and minerals

This salad is rich in various vitamins and minerals, thanks to the diverse range of ingredients. Eggs provide vitamins D and B12, while bean sprouts are a good source of vitamin C and iron. The chives add a burst of vitamins A and K. Together, these ingredients make the salad not only delicious but also nutritionally balanced.


The primary allergens to be aware of in this recipe are eggs and peanuts (from the peanut oil). Those with allergies to these ingredients should exercise caution or make appropriate substitutions.


Overall, Agar-Agar Salad is a nutritious and balanced dish that offers a good mix of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. It is low in carbohydrates and calories, contains healthy fats, and provides a moderate amount of protein. This makes it an excellent choice for a healthy and satisfying meal.


Agar-Agar Salad is a delightful and nutritious dish that combines the unique texture of agar-agar with fresh vegetables and eggs, all dressed in a flavorful dressing. It is low in calories and carbohydrates, making it an excellent choice for a healthy meal or side dish. With its simple preparation and versatile ingredients, this salad is sure to become a favorite for those looking for something light, refreshing, and satisfying.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I knew it was something I had to make. It was a hot summer day, and I was flipping through an old cookbook that belonged to my great-grandmother. As I turned the yellowed pages, a colorful photo of Agar-Agar Salad caught my eye. The vibrant hues of the fruits and the translucent texture of the agar-agar gelatin looked so refreshing and enticing.

I had never heard of Agar-Agar Salad before, but the ingredients seemed simple enough – agar-agar powder, water, sugar, and a variety of fruits. The recipe also called for a touch of coconut milk, which intrigued me. I had always loved experimenting with new flavors and ingredients in my cooking, and this recipe was calling out to me.

I decided to give it a try, even though I had never worked with agar-agar before. I asked my great-grandmother about it, and she told me that agar-agar is a natural gelling agent derived from seaweed. She had used it in her cooking for years, especially in traditional Asian desserts.

With her guidance, I set out to make the Agar-Agar Salad. I dissolved the agar-agar powder in water, added sugar, and boiled the mixture until it was thick and syrupy. Then, I poured it into a mold and added a variety of sliced fruits – mangoes, strawberries, kiwis, and grapes. I let it set in the refrigerator for a few hours, and when I unmolded it, I was amazed at how beautiful it looked.

The colors of the fruits shone through the translucent agar-agar, and the coconut milk added a subtle creaminess to the salad. I took a bite, and the combination of sweet and tangy fruits with the delicate texture of the agar-agar was truly a delight for the senses.

I knew that this recipe would become a favorite in my cooking repertoire. I made it for family gatherings, potlucks, and any time I wanted to impress guests with a light and refreshing dessert. Over the years, I perfected the recipe, adding different fruits and flavors to create new variations of the Agar-Agar Salad.

One day, I was invited to a cooking competition in our community. I decided to enter my Agar-Agar Salad, confident that it would stand out among the other dishes. As I prepared the salad for the competition, I thought back to how I had discovered the recipe and how it had become a beloved part of my culinary journey.

The day of the competition arrived, and I nervously presented my Agar-Agar Salad to the judges. As they took their first bites, I held my breath, waiting for their reactions. To my delight, they were impressed by the flavors, textures, and presentation of the salad. They awarded me first place, and I was filled with pride and joy.

From that day on, the Agar-Agar Salad became my signature dish. I shared the recipe with friends and family, passing down the tradition of making this delicious and refreshing dessert. It reminded me of the importance of trying new things, experimenting in the kitchen, and honoring the culinary traditions of my ancestors.

As I look back on the journey of discovering and perfecting the Agar-Agar Salad recipe, I am grateful for the memories it has brought me and the joy it has brought to others. Cooking is not just about following recipes – it is about creativity, passion, and love. And I am grateful to have found all of that in a simple recipe that has become a cherished part of my life.


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