Well! I finally did it. Tonight I was rushed, harried, had a houseful of hungry people, and just happened to have in my kitchen a pound of spaghetti, a pound of bacon, some eggs, parmesan and garlic. What else could I do but make the Garlic & Sapphires Spaghetti Carbonara?
It was fantastic. It was delicious. Everyone loved it, although I suspect my Very Healthy Husband was biting his tongue at the combination of major cholesterol items all on one plate. The kids seemed shocked. My mother said, “Um, where’s the sauce?” I answered, “You just made it.” (she had been stirring the bacon pieces in the pan) I asked everyone, “Would you eat this again?” I got a resounding YES. (husband was washing the dishes, so he did not get to participate in the vote)
I have a confession to make. I was afraid of this egg business and worried that it would NOT get cooked by the hot pasta, that my pasta just would not be hot ENOUGH, and I would end up with slimey, not quite cooked egg all over my pasta. I added just a teensy bit of half and half to the beaten eggs on the bowl. As if that would somehow help? As if it would cut the degree of horribleness in case the eggs didn’t cook? I don’t know. So I did cheat a bit. But the eggs did cook, we all ate it with great gusto, and now I have something new and wonderful and EASY to make. Thank you Ruth Reichl, and thank you Eric for the assignment, and thank you Muffin Toppers for encouraging me to go for it.
I love roasted salted laver, otherwise known as “gim” in Korean. Or maybe it’s more familiar if I call it “roasted salted nori.” On Japanese food packaging, I’ve seen it labelled, “Korean nori.” Food that is shared between Japan and Korea seems marked with battle over nomenclature, much like the battle over that sea between the two countries–is it an Asian Pear or a Japanese Pear? Or is it the East Sea or is it the Japan Sea?
Anyway, this is one of my favorite snack foods–gim has a savory flavor that is just so delicious, especially wrapped around a spoonful of rice. For many Koreans, some gim, rice, and kimchi makes for a wonderful and simple meal.
You can buy pre-prepared gim at Korean grocery stores, but what’s even better is buying untoasted laver and making the gim yourself–nothing tastes better than the freshly toasted stuff!
For years, I could not toast gim at home. Sadly, I owned an electric stove until recently when we purchased a six burner Wedgewood gas stove. Oh, that stove has opened up possibilities–and I just realized, also for toasting my own gim! It’s a simple enough process–take a square of laver (or nori), brush some sesame oil onto it, and then sprinkle salt (on a whim, I sprinkled on fleur de sel this morning to brilliant effect–but you can use Morton’s like my mother did).
Take that square of oiled, salted laver and wave it over the open flame of your stove. There are simple contraptions for keeping the square in place and keeping it flat (these tools resemble a grill basket that folds flat). Not using this contraption doesn’t affect the taste, but your laver will curl as it toasts. After your square is sufficiently toasted over the open flame, you may eat it! Cut it up in squares and use it to roll around white sticky rice, or eat it on its own, as my husband often does.
Update 9/17/06: After running around town at various Korean stores asking for “the thing you use when you roast gim,” I finally succeeded in procuring a suk-sae: