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Gulaman is the Filipino version of gelatin, it’s close in texture and taste to regular gelatin oragar-agar. A carrageenan that is used to create desserts with a jelly-like base. This is usually in powdered form, but can also be found in dry bar form, most often colored, flavored or unflavored. Creating wonderful and interesting desserts, like the Cathedral or creamy window jelly you would often find during the Christmas season, or beverages like Sago’t gulaman, a sweet refreshing summer drink and many more!

Mr Hat Gulaman

A short introduction

Gulaman or sometimes translated to English as ‘gelatin’, is an ingredient to create jelly-like desserts. It comes unflavored or flavored, with different colors in a light-weight but big dry bar form, or in powdered form sold by packets. What is it made of? These are made of carrageenans which is made from edible red seaweeds, typically used in the food industry to thicken, stabilize or create binding gels out of food, mainly for meat, dairy, and other objects. These can either be made of agar that are from the edible red algae from these two types; Garcilaria and Gelidiaceae. Agar creates support and structure for many Asian desserts, many use them as a substitute for gelatin since these are vegan and are firmer and more dense, and sometimes does not even need to be chilled in the fridge. Similar to other carrageenans based ingredients, these can help thicken and bind (stick) dishes together, but aside from this it can also help with non-food related items such as brewing and connecting fabrics and paper textiles.

In the Philippines, the bar form is just the foot-long dehydrated version that is usually unflavored but colored in bright green, red, and many more choices depending on the dessert to be made. For the powdered form, there is a popular brand called Mr Gulaman (Mr Hat Gulaman), selling the powder form made of seaweed extract, adding coloring, and or flavoring. Gelatinous recipes made from these typically include refreshers like Sago’t gulaman, black or red gulaman drinks, halo-halo, buko pandan dessert or beverage, and most of the colorful desserts in Filipino cuisine use this jelly to add color and texture into other cream or jelly-based dishes.

Gulaman bar

Gelatin vs Gulaman?

  • The biggest difference is that Gelatin comes from collagen taken from the skin and bones of animals. While Gulaman is made from red seaweed or red algae, making it vegan.
  • Gelatin is also more soluble compared to Gulaman which needs a higher temperature of liquid to melt properly. Though if one were to substitute it with each other, you only need a similar ratio (1:1) to do so.
  • Most gulaman based desserts also do not need to be chilled and can harden at room temperature compared to Gelatin that needs to be left in the fridge for some time.

Gulaman Recipes :

Why try this gelatinous ingredient? A typical Filipino ingredient that you might come across a lot, from street stalls, grocery, malls, restaurants and so on. Made into a Gulaman drink or Gulaman dessert, you’re sure to enjoy this colorful dessert staple in recipes like:

  • Sago’t gulaman – a tropical cooler made with a mix of gulaman or gelatin, tapioca pearls, brown sugar, and water. The simplest and best way to cool off from the summer heat.
  • Cathedral Window Jelly dessert – a pretty dessert made of different colored jelly cubes, all bound with a creamy sweet base. Will remind you of many Filipino Christmases.
  • Black gulaman recipe – can be found pre-made, ready to eat, or made homemade with just a few ingredients, these taste close to grass jelly, wiggly, sweet, and delicious!
  • Buko pandan – This wonderfully noticeable green dessert is a mix of many traditional ingredients from coconut cream, coconut milk, condensed milk, buko pandan, buko pandan jelly, tapioca pearls, and nata de coco, all submerged in a delectable sweet cream base. Best served cold. For those who prefer it without buko (coconut) check out this recipe : Buko Pandan (No Buko).
  • Maja Jelly – a sweet almost cake like dessert with a corn base. Made with evaporated milk, condensed milk, thickened with cornstarch, cream of corn, thickened with sugar and jelly powder.
  • Other sImple desserts include : your choice of coloring and flavoring of gulaman jelly (jelly dessert or your own flavoring to make a Fruit Jelly Dessert), cut into cubes mixed with nestle cream, you can also add flavorings like coffee to make the Coffee jelly recipe from mr gulaman, mix some sweetened all purpose cream and condensed milk combo and you’ve made a quick and easy coffee jelly dessert in just a few minutes.
  • Use unflavored gulaman over gelatin for vegan or vegetarian desserts.
Buko Pandan using Gulaman
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