Sunday, April 25, 2021

[Food] Golbaengi (Whelk/Water Snails, 골뱅이)


[Food] Golbaengi (Whelk/Water Snails, 골뱅이)

Golbaengi(Whelk/Water Snails, 골뱅이) live in the sea or freshwater, very similar to that of escargot which is usually eaten in France, Spain and Morocco. Korea is a major and top consumer of golbaengi with the greatest consumption of golbaengi worldwide (Koreans ate 4,187 out of 4,700 tons caught in 2008). In fact, Korea's national production of golbaengi can not meet Koreans' appetites so it has had to be imported from a few countries including the U.K., Norway and Canada which don't eat golbaengi at all.

It may look a bit disgusting to you, but it's flesh is very chewy and soft (though a fisherman from England who has been earning his living catching golbaengi for more than 20 years said, 'it tastes like grandma's toenail') with a sea-like flavor. Koreans usually eat golbaengi with spicy seasoning sauce and thin cold noodles with chopped vegetables.

Koreans use sour, sweet and spicy sauce that uses a lot of red chili powder, sugar and vinegar which makes golbaengi a perfect side dish with alcohol (especially Soju) and any liquor.

In Seoul, Euljiro (Eulji street) is very famous for spicy seasoned golbaengi. The street was formed between 1990~2000 when bars and public houses served spicy seasoned golbaengi with soju (Korean rice wine) because people loved drinking soju with spicy seasoned golbaengi after work, regardless whether they were blue or white collar workers.

Golbaengi Street of Euljiro in Seoul

Today, golbaengi-muchim (spicy seasoned golbaengi) is a very typical Korean side accompaniment (and also canned food) to alcohol in any Korean bar and public house, as is Korean-style deep fried chicken. It's spicy and sour taste goes very well with the chewy golbaengi texture, and eating thin noodles with spicy golbaengi-muchim seasoning is one of the joys of eating golbaengi.

Bon Appétit!

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