Latô: Because Seaweed Isn’t Just Sold as Flat Sheets

Seaweed Salad - Pinoy-style (Photo by Joey K. Lim)

Philippine cuisine lays claim to various bits of exotica found in many parts of the archipelago.  One can hunt for wild venison in the countryside; the province of Rizal is famous for many kinds of edible fungi.  For the truly brave, there is tamilok – white wood worms that, strangely enough, taste like fresh oysters sans the briny taste of the sea.  But one does not have to go that far to enjoy something delicious and unique.

Shown above is ensaladang latôLatô is a kind of seaweed that looks like numerous bunches of very tiny green grapes.  The texture is crisp and the flavor delicately briny.  Think of them as vegetarian tobiko [the orange-colored codfish eggs used to decorate the outside of a California maki]: each tiny globule pops in your mouth, releasing the fresh yet rich flavor of the sea.

Like nori which tastes wonderful when wrapped around lumps of vinegared rice, latô is perfect when lightly dipped in white coconut vinegar (sukang puti) with a faint sprinkling of salt.

If you’re serving it to a crowd, as shown above, this grape-like seaweed gets a flavor boost from the addition of grated green mangoes, finely chopped red onions, and diced tomatoes.  Sprinkle on some vinegar, salt, and pepper, and you have athe perfect light lunch for a humid day.