Let's compare: kuzu, arrowroot and agaragar

Do you know the differences between arrowroot, kuzu and agar agar? All three are natural thickening agents that are frequently used in Japanese cuisine. In contrast to cornstarch commonly used in the Netherlands, these natural thickening agents are vegan and gluten-free.
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15 April 2021

Comparison of Japanese thickening agents

Kuzu and arrowroot are very similar. Sometimes they are even confused with each other. And although they are both made from a Japanese root, the kuzu root is quite different from the arrowroot. So the difference is in the root! In addition, arrowroot comes in powder and kuzu cubed.

Agar is also vegan, gluten-free and Japanese, but agar is more of a gelling agent. The binding force is much stronger. That is why you can use it to stiffen cakes, make pudding and use it in terrine.

Arrowroot

Arrowroot is a Japanese thickening agent, made from arrowroot. It gives a creamy effect to soups and sauces. The thickening power can be compared to regular cornstarch, but the big difference is that arrowroot thickens clearly. In addition, arrowroot is more effective than cornflour at a lower temperature. Arrowroot has a neutral taste and, unlike cornstarch, does not take away from the natural flavors in your dish.

arrowroot thickening agent terrasana

This is how you use arrowroot

First, dissolve arrowroot in a few tablespoons of cold water. Add the resulting paste to the warm liquid. Use approximately 25 grams of arrowroot for thickening 500 ml of thin liquid. Arrowroot does not bind properly until the dish is boiling.

Arrowroot is in addition to thickening soups and sauces also very suitable for use in vegan baking, for example as a replacement for egg. Arrowroot is not a gelling agent. So it does not stiffen.

Agaragar

Agaragar is also called kanten in Japan. It is 100% powdered red seaweed. Agar has 77% fiber and is completely vegan, unlike its animal brother gelatin. Agar is most commonly used for stiffening desserts. The binding power is enormous: even 2-3 times as strong as that of gelatin.

Agar has a neutral taste and can therefore be used in both cake (sweet) and vegetable terrine (savory).

agar agar bindmiddel terrasana

This is how you use agar agar

Always measure agar agar accurately, it comes very precisely! Add it to hot liquid (agargar will congeal in no time in cold liquid) and let it simmer slowly. After the dish has cooled down, the agar will form a firm shape. Agar is also great for making marmalade and can also be used as a natural preservative.

To give an idea of the binding power: you can bind about 500 ml of water with 5 grams of agar agar.

Kuzu

Kuzu is the starch of the root of the Japanese kuzu plant. That is the main difference with arrowroot: it comes from a different kind of root. In Japan they see kuzu as a medicinal plant, and that is directly the biggest advantage of kuzu over arrowroot. Gray kuzu is an unfiltered, unwashed variant of the white kuzu. Please note: gray kuzu is cheaper, but you also need at least 20% more to tie the same.

The way kuzu binds your soup or sauce is similar to arrowroot. Still, in our experience, kuzu is a bit more effective at binding thin liquids. You also need less to make a nice, smooth whole to your dish. Kuzu is best suited as a natural and gluten-free substitute for cornstarch. It binds soups and sauces without affecting the taste. A great advantage over the non-natural binders!

In Japan they see kuzu as a medicinal ingredient. There it is quite normal to make healthy drinks with kuzu, which you then drink on an empty stomach.

kuzu thickening agent packaging

This is how you use kuzu

First dissolve kuzu in a few tablespoons of cold water and then add the paste to your dish while stirring. Kuzu gives a bright shine and a nice tight bond as soon as your dish is cooked. Use 10 grams of white kuzu and 12-15 grams of gray kuzu for thickening 500 ml of liquid.