Seaweed is an abundant, sustainable and highly nutritious food source that has been nourishing humans for thousands of years.
In countries such as Korea and Japan, one popular way to eat this underwater wonder is to press it into sheets and roast it to a shattering crunch. Roasted seaweed, called gim gui in Korean and otsumami nori in Japanese, can serve as a low-calorie, vitamin-rich alternative to potato crisps or crackers.
Until recently, it was hard to find these seaweed snacks outside of dedicated Asian groceries. Lately they have been popping up in health food stores and supermarkets across the country.
One newcomer to the roasted seaweed game is itsu, which you may know as a chain of hip, health-conscious Japanese restaurants scattered across England. itsu’s brand of roasted seaweed is harvested and manufactured by a small, family-owned company in South Korea.
The restaurateurs and seaweed purveyors worked together to develop a new variety of gim gui. They are less oily than traditional versions and therefore even lower in calories. Despite the lack of oil, Itsu’s thins are packed full of flavour, thanks largely to the natural moreishness of seaweed.
The Japanese have a word for this moreish quality: umami. The fifth, savoury flavour that was first identified in kombu seaweed. Luckily, itsu’s seaweed thins have just 24 calories per pack. You can polish off the whole thing in one sitting without feeling a gram of guilt.