"Michael Jackson" Agar-Agar Recipe

“If you’re thinkin’ of being my brother / It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white”

Soy Milk Cincau Michael Jackson Agar-Agar

Many years ago when we had come back to Malaysia for one of our semi-annual visits, Nate and I were out for lunch one day. It was a hot day and Nate was feeling like a refreshing cold drink of soy bean milk mixed with grass jelly (cincau). I don’t recall where exactly we had gone for lunch (though I believe it was Bibi Chik in Petaling Jaya), but what I do recall with great clarity was what the wait person said when we ordered the drink:

Perfect Sense

The staff said, “Oh, you want a Michael Jackson.” Nate and I looked at each other and laughed because we got the joke—that drink was both black and white. I had never heard it called that before but it made perfect sense. Since that day, we have ordered many a “Michael Jackson”.

The combination of smooth soy bean with the herbal bitterness of grass jelly (cincau) works well together. So when it came time to make another jelly it was a no-brainer that we would decide to try to “jellify” this drink (plus we had more soy bean milk left over from the panna cotta recipe of the day before—what can I say, pake you know!)

“Michael Jackson” Soy Milk – Grass Jelly Agar-Agar Recipe

Prep time: 20 mins / Total time: 2 hrs


2 cups unsweetened soybean milk
3 pandan leaves, washed and knotted
5-6 Tbsp sugar
4 grams agar-agar
3 Tbsp evaporated milk
1/3 cup grass jelly (cincau), diced


1. In a small saucepan, heat up the soybean milk over low heat with the pandan leaves and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes to infuse the soy milk, then remove the pandan leaves.

2. Sprinkle in the agar-agar powder and whisk to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the evaporated milk.

boiling soy milk with pandan and adding agar-agar powder

3. Cut a few slices off the grass jelly block and dice them. You should have about 1/3 cups worth.

4. Slowly pour equal amounts of the soy milk into each Royal Selangor jelly mould, filling each about halfway up the cone.

5. Drop in equal amounts of the diced cincau to the jelly moulds.

6. Top off the cones with the remaining soy milk, then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

cincau diced and added to soymilk agar-agar

7. Gently remove the jellies from their moulds and plate them up.

soymilk - cincau agar-agar

After our first attempt with the dragon fruit agar-agar, I was a little bit worried about using too much agar agar powder lest we get another really hard and brittle jelly. I decided to cut the amount of powder from 5g to 4g to see if it would soften the texture a little bit.

Amazingly it did! The texture was really nice—still firm but not hard and crunchy like the first one. Perhaps having soy milk also helped to give it a better texture. As we have been experimenting with jellies for this challenge, we’ve noticed that you do need a little bit more firming agent (be it agar agar, gelatine or konnyaku) when you are dealing with milk.

One other thing—we’ve decided that we’re going to judge if our jellies are successful by what our kids say about them. And they enjoyed this jelly very much, giving it two thumbs-up!

Michael himself may even have liked it 🙂


Play with some jelly – purchase a Royal Selangor Jelly Mould, and start making some of your own. Proceeds go to support the Breast Cancer Welfare Association of Malaysia. Malaysian customers will also get a chance to win their own Olympus Pen Lite E-PL3 camera!

Cheers, Annie

Breast Cancer fact: Compared to African American women, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer, but less likely to die of it. For more information, go to the American Cancer Society website.

11 thoughts on “"Michael Jackson" Agar-Agar Recipe”

  1. Black and white of Michael Jackson’s agar. Very nice one indeed. From my previous experiences, 7 g agar powder needs 900 cc – 1000 cc of liquid. Below those range, the jelly would be too hard and over that the jelly is going to be too wobbly. I hope it helps!

  2. I love the drink and made this jelly as well hehe but I cut my grass jelly into larger chunks. The swallow brand agar powder is 10g and liquid required is 1 litre. This is the more popular brand in KL.

  3. That looks delicious and the name is hilarious! I’ve only seen agar-agar sold in sheets or strips at our local market. Can you use that instead, and if so, I wonder what the equivalent amount would be?

  4. Hi Annie,

    I tried making the jelly but it didn’t set. Maybe it’s the brand of agar agar that I am using. I will try again today with a different brand. Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *