29 Apr2008


by Marketman


I found these unusual, frilly light and tasty seaweeds at the Bogo market. Didn’t catch the appropriate local name (had no ballpen) but they seemed to lump them all together with other seaweeds such as guso and lato. If I am not mistaken it was something like “saang bulaklak” and they said it only grew on a particular type of specimen sea shell. It looked exactly like a seaweed I had recently enjoyed at the Tsukiji restaurant on Pasay Road so I was rather excited to see it at the market. In Manila, a top quality mixed seaweed salad fluffed up with lettuce and a good sesame seed dressing can run upwards of PHP650 for a tiny bowl, so how I wished I had brought the other ingredients for this salad as I would have had these for breakfast as well!


Pressed to describe the shell on which this seaweed thrived, they hunted one down in the market and found this one, a scorpio conch or close relative. Apparently, the seaweed grows on the shell and it has the dual purpose of camouflaging the shell and being ambulant in the seas, giving the seaweed more chances to catch nutrients flowing by… isn’t that cool?


I saw another vendor with this basin of seaweed (color intensified by a flash, where photos above were taken in natural light), who said it was the same as the variety up top, but this one had slightly wider bits that made me think they weren’t exactly the same. Combined with other seaweeds in the market, this was one of the finest displays of edible seaweed I have ever seen in a local market. If any of you know the real name of the seaweed up top, I would appreicate it if you leave me a comment, thanks!



  1. sonianer says:

    your feature on edible seaweeds is truly amazing and so informative.
    what is the “shelf life” of seaweeds? how best to extend that “shelf life”? it would be wonderful to have them available in manila.

    Apr 29, 2008 | 5:40 am


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  3. Roberto Vicencio says:

    My mother being Ilocano, is an avid fan of seaweed salads. All she needed to do was pour boiling water on them just to ensure they are clean. Some salt and a crushed tomato or two. Damn right we were made to eat those things. Great with fried fish.

    Apr 29, 2008 | 6:24 am

  4. natie says:

    the first picture looks like what is called ‘gulaman’ in iloilo-like roberto’s mom, it’s soaked in boiling water first-good as salad with tomatoes, onions, little minced ginger, and green mangoes (vinegar,etc)

    in the korean store nearby, they sell dried seaweeds, which is soaked in water for a few minutes and made into soups or salads. then there’s the nori for sushi..they are all delicious.

    Apr 29, 2008 | 6:49 am

  5. Quillene says:

    Wow! I rarely come across seaweed in our market and am only familiar with the “Lato” and “Arosep” (I think these are one and the same…???)

    MM, it makes me think that with seas surrounding our beautiful islands, it is a wonder that we have never made an effort to process these things much like the Japanese do with their nori.

    Gee, MM, thanks to you I am suddenly craving sushi and sashimi for breakfast! :)

    G’day to ‘ya!

    Apr 29, 2008 | 7:09 am

  6. ilongga says:

    agree with natie. in iloilo we call it gulaman.
    lived in tawi-tawi for some time. it’s the seaweed capital of the philippines, i think. it’s really something if your host prepares agal-agal (or agar-agar) for you. they’d rather sell the seaweeds for export than eat it.

    Apr 29, 2008 | 8:10 am

  7. Marichu says:

    Based on the topmost picture, I think it’s what people here in Hawaii call “limu” or “lipoa” (a type of limu). They’re mixed with sashimi-grade raw cubed ahi and tossed with soy sauce, chili pepper flakes, salt, maybe sesame oil, and maybe sweet white Maui onions. The appetizer is called “poke” (po-ke).

    Another way it’s prepared by Filipinos here (I’ve only tasted this in Filipino households, but I’m not sure if they’re prepared in other households) is to pickle them. The pickle juice has the same sugar/vinegar ratio as papaya atsara. Then just add sliced onions and let it pickle.

    Hope that helps!

    Apr 29, 2008 | 9:38 am

  8. Homebuddy says:

    Yes, this fine guso is just blanched in boiling water because when boiled, it melts and turns to gulaman.
    We just prepare it as any kinilaw, vinegar, tomatoes, onions, ginger, sili espada, sliced and add some sauteeed “hipon” fermented shrimps. Some add coco milk.
    As to its shelf life, I just keep it refrigerated for up to 3 days if I can’t prepare them right away.

    Apr 29, 2008 | 11:32 am

  9. kasseopeia says:

    Quillene, I think the Tagalog/Bisaya “lato” is the same as the Ilocano “ar-arosep”. Or at least that’s what I was brought up to believe.

    I love seaweed. I can “papak” seaweed and be perfectly happy.

    As far as I remember, there are two types of lato (the ones that look like green grapes) – the big ones are a paler green while the smaller ones are a more intense (emerald to Sprite-bottle) green. Then there’s “guso” that looks like a tree-branch that comes in pale green, dark green and slightly red. Then there’s the hair-like “buhok” (like MM’s photo up top but with wider strands and a pale green to a reddish-brown in color) and the wide “gulamang-dagat”, which I believe is brown kelp. All these fresh seaweed we “piskag” (I think “himay” is the closest Tagalog approximation – to remove the inedible-looking bits) then blanch in boiling water, drain and mix with any or all of the following: any type of vinegar, salt, fish sauce, crushed heirlooms, finely minced red onion, grated ginger, diced green mango, pomelo.

    I once made a pomelo-lato-lettuce salad with white wine vinegar and a bit of EVOO and some black sesame seeds (leftover from sushi-making). Not spectacular, weird even but good with seared tuna steaks.

    I usually use seaweed within 3 hours of purchase. When I can’t do that, I “piskag” and place in a colander lined with moist paper towels and cover with another moist paper towel. Keeps in the vegetable crisper for about 48 hours.

    Drying seaweeds, I think, preserves it best. I love seasoned nori. I even saw a product in Cash and Carry called Big Sheet – fried nori with spices. Nice snack.

    Apr 29, 2008 | 2:03 pm

  10. mic says:

    hi to all…
    please help me where i can buy Eucheuma denticulatum and Caulerpa lentillifera…. thanks.. just post your reply here… thank you in advance..

    May 28, 2008 | 3:15 pm

  11. marie says:

    with regards to seaweed, does anyone know about the abundance of lato in Iloilo City, Philippines? thanks so much!

    Oct 1, 2008 | 10:06 am

  12. naomi,m.d. says:

    to mic,

    there two commercial species of eucheuma…eucheuma cotonii(a.k.a. kappaphycus alvarezii) and echeuma spinosum…echeuma denticulatum is very much similar to the spinosum variety…i can supply(in commercial quantity) for you the dehydrated form in which you can rehydrate it with simple submerging in water for your own perusal…

    fresh seaweeds will be available upon request and upon the season…


    Oct 21, 2008 | 6:41 am

  13. dee says:

    hello, Marketman!

    i was able to have steamed sa-ang in baclayon, bohol a few weeks back – courtesy of Ms Tessie Jaya Pagdato of baclayon, bohol). it was heavenly and delectably tasty; the sa-angs (still in their shells) were steam cooked in a bed of onion and garlic that tempered the texture of its meat and enriched its flavor! yuuuuuum!

    Nov 7, 2008 | 5:08 pm

  14. Mr. V. says:

    I grew up by Santa Cruz, California. Being Illocano, my dad grew up as a fisherman in Cabugao(Daclapan)Illocos Sur. So our family used to go to Monterey and Santa Cruz on seaweeding expeditions (just another food party). We used to collect was is now on the endangered species list as Sea Palm or what he called konkawain? (shaped like a minature palm tree and part of the kelp family of seaweed). We usually ate this fresh after blanching in hot water for a couple of minutes. Then you sort of make a kilawin dish with diced ginger and onions. Then you squeeze one lemon, I also add the vinegar from bottled pepperocini peppers in about the same amount as the lemon juice, then I add patis until it just turns from the sour lemon flavor to the salty patis flavor. Almost in same way that you use calamansi and patis for flavoring food in the Philippines. You can also add diced tomatoes. You can trying your luck trying to gather this on the western beaches of California, but if you get caught it is a federal crime(at least it was when I got caught, just check the fishing license regulations handbook before collecting. Luckily I was let off the hook with a 1 year court probation. It so happens that the portuguese, italians had been gathering this for years and they taught some of the first filipinos different seaweeds to gather here. Then the vietnamese came and started overharvesting. So even though I got caught with one rice sack others were taking up to 10-15 30 gallon garbage bags. You can also freeze this seaweed or dry it in the sun, then reconstitute, or you add salt and then freeze. It tastes very close to the original. You can do the same with another seaweed called Pupuklo(same name in the P.I). Which kind of looks like thin dried coral branches but the texture is of a firm sponge when you eat it (this has to be eaten only when it is fresh). Fortunately there is a Korean version of of konkawain?. It is sold under the Korean brand names of Assi Products, Wang Products and are usually found in the refrigerated section of your typical asian store. The description on the packaging is seaweed stem. This very close to the taste of the sea palm. Just rinse the salt, boil for 5 minutes, rinse again and add the ingredients above…enjoy.

    Nov 8, 2008 | 3:20 am

  15. solraya says:

    On a recent trip by to Ilocos Norte, we chanced upon these stores by the road selling salt. I stopped by one to get some bags of salt to giveaway. Saw these small plastic bags with what seemed like purple sponges. They said they were seaweeds. Dried. Bought some and followed the instructions of steeping for a while in hot water. Good that we decided to try just a small amount. It was like releasing them from a vacuum pack. They swelled and we ended up with a lot for a salad :) I can’t remember how much, but the small bag was like PHP25. It can make several big bowls for salad.

    Jan 30, 2009 | 5:18 pm

  16. nessa says:

    dear mic,

    just in case you need more of eucheuma cottonii, please let me know :)

    May 3, 2009 | 10:22 pm

  17. silent says:

    is this not eucheuma cottonii, guso seaweed?

    nessa, u r seller/supplier? i would like to purchase some (dried) guso in yellow or green, what’s the different between them? please email me at kathlynkong@yahoo.com with location, price, and etc.

    May 11, 2009 | 3:14 pm

  18. badlyinneed says:


    PLEASE…MY GROUP IS IN NEED OF THOSE EUCHEUMA COTTONII for our OMGEEZ thesis…..we cant find here in manila…..pls help us….leave a msg in my ead (kariza_jag@yahoo.com) as soon as u read dis…pls……………superthnx. =p

    Jul 29, 2009 | 4:43 pm

  19. trisha_marie says:

    yes, i agree with the people who had been in iloilo that we have a wide variety of seaweeds here. the type and quality and availability of the seaweeds here in iloilo vary from each towns…

    you can have a wide variety of choices but just be sure that your familiar with it if you want to transact a business because the names of the seaweeds also varies from each towns
    Good luck!!!

    Mar 6, 2010 | 3:12 pm


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