They looked like really cool noodles, and in varying shades of green. Sort of like sea soba. But lukot, a Visayan ingredient, is something that I had NEVER seen before. So I asked the vendor at the Bogo market what it was… They smiled and said it was sea cucumber poop, or what appeared to be translated as sea cucumber poop. Omigod is right! Perhaps something was lost in translation, so I asked several others what it was… and roughly translated, they said “it comes out of a sea cucumber, they leave it in piles on the sea floor…” well, that didn’t help. So I took the photos and figured I could do some research later. Then just hours later, I saw the same ingredient on the island of Malapascua, and they said it was sea cucumber eggs, but they couldn’t explain why it came in so many shades of green and yellow brown, nor why a sea cucumber would just lay them on the seabed, for all the predators to scoop up with ease. And I admit I have bad eyesight, but I looked at these “noodles” really closely and couldn’t discern any individual eggs so I was a bit concerned… A little more googling back home yielded some alarming results. Was it actually sea cucumber poop? Bunches of sea cucumber eggs? Some other unusual stuff??? Some writers or bloggers simply ignored or avoided mentioning what it actually was altogether, choosing to call it marine spaghetti, spaghettini look-alike, seaweed, etc.
But this very helpful forum seems to be reasonably logical and it identifies this as the secretions of a sea hare (dolabella auricularia) or dongsul/donsol/sometimes b’at, not exactly the sea cucumber I had in mind, the long black things from my childhood that we used to viciously (as some kids can be vicious) step on them in shallow waters to watch them shoot out a milky liquid on trips to the Batangas sea shore. The secretions include strings of eggs of the sea hare (scroll down the link to find sea hare), and the various shades of green are driven by the types of algae the sea hare has consumed in the recent past. They counsel that the color of the lukot is irrelevant, and that despite no other sea creature finding these low hanging fruit, or should I say easily munched on eggs, appetizing, us humans find them tasty and a great addition to various dishes… hmmm… A little bit more research convinced me that sea cucumber poop would have a lot of sand in it, and these green noodle like things didn’t seem to have any sand in them… So I personally prefer to describe them as Sea Hare Secretions…
Some folks enjoy this kilawin style, fresh from the sea, with some coconut vinegar, chillies and chopped shallots. Others enjoy this added to tinowa, a staple soup in Cebu and the surrounding islands in the Visayas (though called by different names throughout the region). The lukot cooks up like noodles and has a distinct taste, though most can’t describe the actual taste. I was actually wracking my brain for some other food item anywhere on the planet made up of the poop of an animal but I couldn’t, so I thought we were unique… In fact, the closest I could think of was kopi luwak, the beans that had been munched on and passed through the intestinal tract of a civet, then roasted and enjoyed in your fine china coffee cup… But actually, this lukot isn’t poop at all. In fact, maybe I should re-brand it as “Sea Hare Caviar” and start charging an arm and a leg for it from visiting foodies looking for something new and exciting to taste… :)