Kim bugak in a wooden bowl.

Korean Fried Seaweed Snack (Kim Bugak 김부각)

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Have you heard of temple food? In South Korea, temple cuisine refers to a type of culinary culture that originated in Buddhist temples. A popular type of fried seaweed snack, known as ‘kim bugak’ (김부각), started out as a Buddhist temple food. Nowadays, people often eat these fried seaweed chips as a quick bite, banchan (side dish), or anju (drinking snack). 

In this post, we will teach you how to traditionally make this treat. While it takes a lot of time and energy, it is a lot of fun to make these at home! 

Let’s get started! 

An overhead shot of a Korean fried seaweed snack.
Such a Delicious Fried Seaweed Snack!

What Is Bugak?

‘Bugak’ (부각) refers to a type of vegetarian deep-fried dish. To make any type of bugak, you start by coating vegetables or seaweed with ‘chapssal-pul’ (찹쌀풀), a paste made from glutinous rice flour. Then, you deep fry the coated vegetables or seaweed. The outer chapssal-pul layer puffs up making crispy chips. 

Some common types of fresh produce used to make bugak included green chili peppers, perilla leaves, camellia leaves, burdock leaves, potatoes, and dried seaweed.

Today, we are making the version using ‘kim’ (김), otherwise known as dried seaweed! While the ingredients to make this dish are simple, it does take a bit of time to make! 

All the ingredients needed to make kim bugak: Seaweed, Water, Glutinous Rice Flour Paste, Sesame Seeds, and Vegetable Oil.
All the Ingredients Needed for Kim Bugak: Seaweed, Water, Glutinous Rice Flour Paste, Sesame Seeds, and Vegetable Oil.

Korean Fried Seaweed Chips Tips & Tricks?

Below, we listed some tips & tricks to make these delicious treats. Like we stated above, in the recipe, we will list the traditional way of making these as well. Soon, we will be posted a hack to make these in a modern and convenient way! If you are interest in learning the quicker way, make sure to subscribe to our blog for updates!

The dried seaweed snack before dehydrating.
The Snack Before Dehydrating.
The kim bugak after dehydrating but before frying.
The Snack After Dehydrating.

Traditional Method Tips & Tricks

  • Start by cutting the seaweed. You can pick any size you want. I like to cut a sheet of seaweed into four pieces!
  • To make this using the traditional method, you start by combining glutinous rice flour with water and boil over medium-high heat to make a thick paste. When shopping, you need to buy the correct type of rice flour! Anything other than the glutinous type will not work–this is also the type of rice flour used to make Korean tteok and Japanese mochi.
  • When coating the dried seaweed with the paste, make sure to use a thin layer. If you add too much, the snack becomes hard instead of crispy.
  • After coating the seaweed with the glutinous rice flour paste, you need to let the seaweed dry again. To do so, you can use three different methods. First, you can let them air dry for two days. Second, you can place the seaweed into an electric dehydrator and dry it for approximately eight hours. Finally, third, you can dry the seaweed at low temperatures in the oven–I recommend drying them at approximately 200°F for a few hours. 
  • When frying the kim bugak, use a wooden spoon to hold down the sheets of seaweed under the oil. This keeps the sheets from curling up too much.
  • Once fried, place the crunchy snacks onto a paper towel on a plate. Then, let them cool. The paper towel soaks up some of the excess oil from the frying process.
Kim bugak after dehydrating.
Kim Bugak Before Being Fried.
A photo of Korean fried seaweed after frying.
Kim Bugak After Being Fried.

Kim Bugak Frequently Asked Questions:

Below, we listed some questions you may have about this Korean fried seaweed snack recipe. If we do not answer your question below, feel free to leave a comment or email us at carvingajourney@gmail.com!

Is This Recipe Free of Major Allergens? (Gluten, Soy, Dairy, Etc.)

For the most part, this recipe does not contain any major allergens. Though that is the case, some people with a shellfish or fish allergy should avoid seaweed as well. Always check with your doctor first before consuming if you are concerned.

Kim bugak is naturally free of other major allergens such as gluten, soy, dairy, tree nuts, eggs, and peanuts. 

A side shot of Korean fried seaweed snack in a wooden bowl.
A Bowl to Share!

Is This Fried Seaweed Recipe Vegetarian or Vegan? 

Yes! For vegetarians and vegans interested in eating Korean food, this is an amazing snack option for you. To make it vegan, use the water option instead of anchovy or seafood broth!

For reference, Korean temple food is the best option for vegetarians and vegans when visiting South Korea. Temple food is completely vegan! For this reason, I recommend doing Buddhist temple stays when visiting. 

What Can You Serve With Kim Bugak?

I enjoy eating kim bugak as a snack when eating out in nature–for picnics and hiking trips! In South Korea, people often eat this as a snack while drinking beer. 

An overhead shot of kim bugak.
Do You Like Seaweed?

Can You Make This Recipe In Advance?

You can easily make this recipe a few days in advance! If you do, store them in an airtight Ziplock bag or container on your counter or in your pantry. 

If you do make these in advance, try to eat them within a few days! Also, if you do not want to make these you can buy them as well!!

An overhead shot of kim bugak.
A really close up side shot of Korean fried seaweed in a wooden bowl.

We Hope You Enjoyed Learning About This Korean Fried Seaweed Snack (Kim Bugak)

In the end, we hope you enjoyed learning about this Korean fried seaweed snack. If so, let us know in the comment section below. Also, we would love to hear about your favorite uses for dried seaweed!  

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 Korean recipes below! For reference, many recipes are influenced by our blended Korean and Southern heritage. 

Carving A Journey Korean Dried Seaweed 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 reading about this Korean fried seaweed chips recipe! Thank you so much for stopping by!

A horizontal photo of the kim bugak in a wooden bowl.
I Could Snack on These All Day!

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Korean Fried Seaweed Snack (Kim Bugak 김부각)

Recipe by EmilyCourse: Recipes, Side DishesCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Intermediate
Servings

14

Chips
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Ingredients

  • 7 Sheets of Nori (Dried Seaweed), Each Sheet Cut Into 4 Pieces

  • 1/2 Cup Glutinous Rice Flour

  • 1 1/3 Cup Anchovy Stock or Water

  • 1/2 TSP Sea Salt, If Using Water

  • Sesame Seeds, Garnish

  • Vegetable Oil, for Frying

Directions

  • First, cut each dried seaweed sheet into 4 square pieces. Set aside.
  • Making the Rice Paste:
  • Next, make the rice paste. Mix the glutinous rice flour with the anchovy broth or water in a medium pot. If you are using water, also add the salt. Then, stir together until smooth with a wooden spoon.
  • Place the mixture on the stovetop. Heat it over a medium temperature and stir continuously with the wooden spoon. Once it thickens and starts to bubble, remove the mixture from the heat. Continue to stir until the paste becomes slightly translucent and cools.
  • Preparing the Kim Bugak:
  • Once the rice paste mixture cools, it is time to coat the previously cut dried seaweed. Place one square of the seaweed on a smooth, clean surface. Then, using the wooden spoon or a basting brush, add a thin layer of the rice paste on top of the seaweed. Once completely covered, add another square of seaweed on top of the rice paste layer. Once again, brush another layer of rice paste on top of the second square of seaweed. Each chip should have two layers.
  • Garnish the wet rice paste and seaweed sheets with sesame seeds.
  • Drying the Rice Paste and Seaweed Chip:
  • Once you coat the seaweed with the rice paste, you need to let them dry out again. On one hand, you can use the natural sun and air which can take 24 to 48 hours. On the other hand, you can use a dehydrator that uses 8 hours.
  • Using natural sun and air, place the wet chips on a flat surface. Let them sit in the sunlight for 24-48 hours. The chips should harden enough to snap in half.*
  • If you are using a dehydrator, set it to the vegetable setting (approximately 125°F-135°F). Place the wet chips into the dehydrator for approximately 8 hours until they become hard enough to snap in half.*
  • Frying the Kim Bugak
  • Place vegetable oil in a pot or wok. You should fill approximately 3-4 inches worth of oil. A little bit more or less of the oil will work. Slowly bring up the oil temperature to 350°F. To test the oil, you can dip the corner of a piece of kim bugak into the oil. If it bubbles, it is ready to start frying.
  • Using tongs, lower a piece into the oil. Let it fry for approximately 5 seconds on one side and 5 seconds on the other side. Continue to do this until the rice paste puffs up and becomes a light golden color.
  • Using the tongs, remove the kim bugak from the oil. Then, place it onto a paper towel to remove excess oil and drain. Continue this process until you fry all the pieces. When using 7 sheets of dried seaweed, it makes 14 pieces of kim bugak. Serve immediately with beer, soju, or cider! Or, place it in an airtight container and keep for a few days on the counter.

Notes

  • *To speed up the drying process, flip and rotate the uncooked kim bugak every few hours. You should do this whether you are using a dehydrator or a sunny window.

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