I imagine most people, upon being confronted with the idea of eating seaweed (in any form), would recoil their heads in disgust and declaim any of us who do enjoy it are barking mad. Well, that’s nonsense; but it does seem to be a common attitude. Not to a Korean, of course – but to those of us who enjoy this delightful food on western shores.
From Ajumma Republic (an ajumma, or 아줌마 in the native tongue, is a middle-aged woman, loosely analogous to the French madame or German frau) comes this delicious roasted seaweed snack. My research tells me Koreans call this 김구이, or ‘gim gu-i’ (gim being seaweed) though that may very well be wrong. Like I said, I’m not an expert at this.
For those who have never tried seaweed before, I’m going to do my best to not only provide a decent description of what I feel it is, how it tastes, etc; but also encourage people to give it a go. You won’t regret (really).
Once opening the pack, you’ll see a flimsy plastic tray with the seaweed contained within. I didn’t count how many sheets you get, though there are quite a lot. Enough to share, or enough to snack on for multiple sittings. Each sheet is very thin, and approximately the size of a credit card. There’s no special way to eat them. It’s simply a case of grabbing a sheet (or doubling up, even tripling up, as is very tasty!), and stuffing it into your mouth. I prefer eating them in one bite, as the seaweed has a tendency to flake off and get everywhere. Better to contain it and save yourself the mess.
There’s a certain ‘melting’ quality once it comes into contact with your tongue, a quality not really comparable to any western food. It’s simultaneously flaky, but also very soft and manageable. It’s a ‘quiet’ food, put it that way. As you can imagine, there is a salty taste going on – it being a product of the sea after all. Salty as it may be, it isn’t extreme, and those shaking their heads right now shouldn’t be put off. However those who do like a little extra salt in their diet will definitely have their fancy tickled (that’s not a rude remark, honest).
Like many Korean snacks, these are terribly moreish. Owing to their being quite insubstantial (they’re effectively nothing when compared to a cookie, or small cake), you’ll need quite a few of these to feel sated. It’s not uncommon for me to dispatch with the whole carton in one sitting, though I am a food killer, as my girlfriend says…
Bonus points? Once the entire carton is empty, you’ll find a little ‘clean pack’ underneath. For freshness and… stuff. But really, don’t eat it. It’s completely useless after you’re finished, though to western eyes it’s certainly a novelty to find in snack food.
Go ahead, get some gim in your life.