Song Cheol Soo and his daughter Song Joo Jyun harvest gamtae, a special Korean seaweed, in the Garorim Bay in South Korea.
“It’s the best quality here. First, because it’s not polluted, it produces high quality gamtae,” says Song. “Also, the water in the Garorim Bay is deeper than other places.”
He says that gamtae, known for its scent of the ocean and unique savory flavor, is quite possibly the most difficult thing to harvest in the sea, and that’s where the value comes from.
“The water comes in and out twice a day. You need a good mudflat to yield good gamtae,” says Song.
Due to the fact that it is a wild plant, the supply is unpredictable. Song follows the lunar calendar to learn the ebb and flow of the ocean to determine when good times to harvest gamtae are. He knows what time and date the water comes in.
“The weather decides whether it’s a good year or a bad year,” says Song.
Once it’s harvested, Song and his team wash and clean the product before making around 400 to 500 sheets of it per day to be roasted and shipped out. Their goal is to spread the word about gamtae and make it more popular worldwide.
“When it comes to gamtae, one thing I take pride in is, even though we didn’t make a fortune, we are the greatest contributor who brought gamtae to the forefront and commercialized it,” says Song. “I hope it will be widely known to the world.”
Watch the full video to see how the two sell their product to chefs, and why more and more chefs are putting it on their menus.