Kinilaw na Guso at Lato / Seaweed Salads

Some of our crew at home hail from the small seaside town of Toledo, Cebu. sea1Others call the island of Culion, near Coron, Palawan home. Suffice it to say they enjoy seafood, whether fresh and writhing, dried and salty or in salad form. Here are two ways they enjoy fresh seaweed. First up, kinilaw na guso a la Toledo (seaweed ceviche). Guso is a gelatinous, substantial seaweed, and our cook likes to blanch it for a few seconds before adding a vinegar dressing with large chunks of ginger, chopped tomatoes, red onions, salt and ideally, coconut or tuba vinegar. The reddish flavorful vinegar is the key difference between a good kinilaw and a GREAT kinilaw na guso. Notice the more olivey color of the blanched seaweed compared to the uncooked seaweed below. Frankly, kinilaw seems to be a misnomer as the seaweed is blanched, but who am I to argue? Best served with fried fish and eaten with your hands. The salad has a real textural and mouth feel that is unlike most salads you have ever eaten. To many, this is comfort food from the sea.

A simpler salad or seaweed side dish of sorts is super fresh sea2lato served au naturel with a good coconut vinegar and salt, the way they do it on the islands of Cebu and Palawan. Lato are bright green in color and have almost grape like formations attached to a thick stem… and when you bite into the lato they pop in your mouth and release a salty liquid truly reminiscent of the ocean. They seem particularly good if they are rinsed in salty water and popped into the fridge for half an hour so that they are cold when served. You can also apply the dressing used for the guso above to the lato but purists like to savour the lato with just a quick dip in good vinegar (and possibly some salt). I would have to agree with the purists as pouring the vinaigrette directly on the lato results in a gooey mess and a lack of pop when you bite into the seaweed. I didn’t have dried fish with my lunch and seaweed yesterday but I bet it would have made a perfect match. Finally, if you want to go further on the seaweed salad realm, try the seaweed salad at Tsukiji on Pasay Road in Makati, wickedly pricey but wickedly good as well…


12 Responses

  1. I like the grapey seaweed for its textural and taste contribution especially when paired with grilled stuff (you’ll notice that in my posts, I’m like the passionate cheerleader for inihaw na liempo!).

    Btw — this is the real seaweed deal right? Speaking of misnomer, some people still call those brown, chewy strings sold in Chinese restos that’s paired with century egg as seaweed. Get over it, People! It’s J-E-L-L-Y-F-I-S-H. You’re eating jellyfish (which I also love btw). I remember now a friend who loved the stuff but stopped eating it after finding out that it was the thing that stung him some childhood summer ago. I said eating its kind is the best revenge but alas ….

    Sorry for digressing! Good morning, Marketman! :)

  2. Thanks for that comment, Gigi. I am amused. And FUNNY you should raise the jellyfish thing as I am doing a post on JELLYFISH tomorrow… not only to do you frequent the site, you are predicting its next moves…

  3. I really like the taste of lato (and the popping!)…only recently discovered it through my boyfriend’s family. The are from Zamboanga but I do not know if that has anything to do with it. So you just rinse them in salty water and pop them into the fridge? Great! Will definitely try this…hehe, hope I impress! :)

    Gigi! So funny your comment about the best revenge! Just had to comment because it’s the same thing I told my young cousin to convince him to eat crocodile (or was it gator?) :)

  4. one thing i can advised is that avoid rinsing water f u have lots of lato on that day and u want to preserve it for the next day just put it on the refrigerator.the f u want to serve it again rinse it with a lukewarm water and it will bring back the freshness of it.

  5. Thanks for that may ann, I guess fresh water damages the salty seaweed if you aren’t going to use it right away…

  6. Seaweeds salad brings back memories of my childhood days in Iloilo, Roxas City, and Romblon.

    Greetings from Dhahran

  7. March 3, 2006

    What is the English name/equivalent of “lato”?
    Is there a store selling it here in the vicinity of New Jersey? I will truly appreciate if you can tell me bcuz I’m really interested to buy it on a regular basis.

  8. Jocelyn, sorry, I am not sure what the English word for lato is. It is a freshly harvested seaweed from tropical waters and I seriously doubt that it is available fresh in the New Jersey area. I could be wrong but I think this only lasts 24 -36 hours out of water at the most. Your best chance of finding it is at a good Japanese food store. But I would be really surprised if you find it in your neck of the woods! Good Luck!

  9. hi! i’m faith a highschoool student.I have have found your comments and articles interesting about caulerpa lentellifera or what you have known as lato others called it seagrapes. I have reasearch study(as school requirement)and my topic is about microbiology. I have been researching and conducting experiments about this lato because in other country scientists found out that some seaweed inhibit bacteria or some pathogens or they can be used as antibiotics. As my research i would like to find out if our local seaweed or lato also possesses that ability. when we get the result after the experimentations about it i’ll tell you and hopefully we’ll developed it as a new medicine like the penicillin.

  10. faith,

    please do contact me at my email for your particular interest. i am doing my masteral thesis about 3 species of seaweeds we have, eucheuma, caulerpa, and gelidiella. test of microbial inhibition is conducted by “challenge test”. i can give you guidelines on its procedure.

    to those who are interested with dried gozo(eucheuma), that can be rehydrated and use for food preparation, we have available supply upon orders. lato is widely availabe towards the summer months…while gozo is available all year round.




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