Cycle 4 – Item 9
14 (Mon) January 2013
-Seongsu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ
For some people, the best part of gimbab are the straggly pieces on either end. I always start with them. Due to the protruding lengths of vegetables, egg, and other components, the end pieces typically comprise a higher ratio of filling to seaweed/rice than the pieces from the middle of the roll. They’re referred to in Korean as “ggoturi,” which literally means “shell/pod” (as for beans) but can metaphorically refer to “source/starting point” (like a seed). During the mid-90s, the now-defunct chain Ggoturi Kimbap attempted to capitalize on this premise, employing a compartmentalized device that limited the rice to sectional intervals along the seaweed roll, thus turning internal pieces into ggoturi as well (after several revisions, that’s the best written description that I could come up with); after a few years, the venture failed because, primarily, presumably, the gimbab itself wasn’t very good, form aside. But the concept had always seemed flawed to me on its face, because the ggoturi’s inherent scarcity, just one on either side of the roll, is what makes them that much more desirable under ordinary circumstances, like that single cherry on top of the sundae. Otherwise, it’s too much of a good thing.
Recently, E-Mart came out with this new variation of prepackaged ready-to-go gimbab. It took the ggoturi principle to the extreme, almost to the point of absurdity: a high ratio of filling-to-seaweed-to-rice is generally good, but this was mostly filling in the absence of any seaweed (“gim”) or rice (“bab”), which by definition defeats the purpose of the whole thing. Incidentally, “yachae” = “vegetable” – despite krab stick being a component. I’m betting that the item will soon be nothing but a memory, like that Ggoturi Kimbap chain, for pretty much the same reasons.
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)