Seaweed sheets sitting in a blue bowl next to chopsticks

Dried Seaweed Sheets Used in Korean Cuisine

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In much of Asia, people use edible dried seaweed sheets in much of their cooking. You may recognize that people use these sheets to make Japanese sushi or Korean kimbap. In America, we often use the Japanese term ‘nori’ to refer to these dried seaweed sheets. That being the case, if you are learning to cook Korean food, you will often see the seaweed referred to as ‘gim’ or ‘kim’ (김) in Korean recipes.

Here, we will continue our discussion of Korean ingredients by introducing different uses of dried seaweed sheets in Korean cooking! Before we do, let’s learn about this ingredient. 

What Is Dried Seaweed Paper?

Like I stated above, ‘gim’ or ‘kim’ is a Korean term for edible, dried seaweed used in cooking. This generic term refers to various species of seaweed in the Pyropia and Porphyria genera (genus). 

Seaweed is produced and cultivated during the winter months. Usually, cultivation begins in September or October and continues until the weather begins to warm again the next year. Algae grow well in extremely cold seawater when temperatures are between 5-8°C (41-46°F). 

Besides ‘kim,’ miyeok (also known as wakame) and dasima (saccharina japonica) varieties of seaweed are cultivated to use in cooking. 

Dried seaweed next to sesame seeds and on a brown tray
Dried Seaweed Next to Other Food Preparation Ingredients!

Dried Seaweed Sheets in Korean Cooking:

Mentions of edible seaweed in Korean records date back to the Goryeo era (the 1200s). Since then, it has become an integral part of Korean cooking culture! Below, we list some foods which include dried seaweed paper! Honestly, ‘kim’ is used so often that it is impossible to list them all. 

Holding up dried seaweed coated with sesame seeds by hand.
Dried Seaweed Is Used in Kim Bugak–This Is Partially Through the Recipe.

Korean Foods Using Seaweed Paper and Rice:

  • Kimbap (김밥): Also known as gimbap, this Korean dish is made using rice, different fresh and cooked filling ingredients, and dried seaweed. To make kimbap, you roll the rice and fillings into the dried seaweed. Then, you cut the roll into bite-size pieces. Often, people compare kimbap to sushi. The two are culturally very different. If you want to learn about the difference, you can read our article ‘kimbap vs. sushi: what is the difference?’ Finally, you can try our tuna kimbap or kimchi fried rice and mozzarella cheese kimbap recipes from our blog!
  • Triangle Kimbap (삼각김밥): Samgak kimbap is a variation of kimbap based on Japanese onigiri. Instead of rolling the rice and fillings in dried seaweed, the seaweed is folded around the ingredients in a triangular shape. You can buy these at all convenience stores for a quick bite! You can try our triangle kimbap recipe on our blog! 
  • Jumeokbap (주먹밥): Otherwise known as a rice ball or fist rice, Jumeokbap is often served in a big bowl in restaurants with plastic gloves. In the bowl, you have rice and other ingredients such as finely chopped spam, green onions, dried seaweed, and more. As you eat, you make rice balls with your hands using plastic gloves. People often eat this with spicy food! You can find our recipe for jumeokbap on our blog! 
A shot of kimbap before being rolled. Kimchi fried rice is spread out over dried seaweed. Then mozzarella cheese is poured over the rice.
Dried Seaweed Paper Is Used to Make Kimbap–This Is Cheese Kimbap

Further Dried Seaweed Sheets Recipes:

  • Kim Bugak (김부각): Bugak refers to a type of vegetarian deep-fried dish. To make bugak, you start by coating different vegetables with ‘chapssal-pul’ (찹쌀풀), a paste made from glutinous rice flour. Then, you deep fry these vegetables. The outer chapssal-pul layer puffs up making crispy chips. To make the seaweed version, you coat dried seaweed strips in the thick rice paste before frying. You can try our traditional kim bugak recipe on our blog.
  • You can also try making our kim bugak hack version that uses rice paper instead of the glutinous rice flour paste. It is a trendy hack that started in 2021!

    The list of Korean food using dried seaweed strips can go on, and on, and on. Some of my favorite recipes use it as a topping or garnish! 

    a side shot of kim bugak in a wooden bowl with parchment paper.
    Cooked Kim Bugak– Perfect Drinking Snack Using Seaweed

    Where Can I Buy Dried Seaweed Sheets? 

    You can buy dried seaweed sheets in almost every well-stocked grocery store chain in the Asian food section. Just note, it may be called ‘nori’ instead. Also, you can buy these sheets in any Asian grocery store or online!

    How Long Does Dried Seaweed Paper Last?

    To store dried seaweed, place it in an airtight container such as a Ziploc bag. Then, store it in a dark place such as the pantry. 

    Dried seaweed can keep for up to 6 months in a cool and dark place!

    We Hope You Enjoyed Learning About Dried Seaweed Paper

    In the end, we hope you enjoyed learning about the popular dried seaweed sheets Korean ingredient. We have already cooked with this ingredient often on our blog. In the future, we will cook with it some more. 

    If you would like to read more about cooking, you can find further recipes on our blog. We listed some of our favorite Carving A Journey seaweed-based recipes below! For reference, many recipes are influenced by our blended Korean and Southern heritage.

    Further Carving A Journey Recipes:

    If you have any questions or comments, you can also email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com.

    And, finally, we would love to hear from you through our social media as well! You can follow us at @carvingajourney on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Or, if you would like more articles like these, you can subscribe to our blog by joining our mailing list. We hope you enjoyed learning about how to make this Korean ingredient! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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