Lukot / Sea Hare Secretions


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… :)


51 Responses

  1. The link you supplied for “sea hare” opens into a completely unknown and fascinating world. Farther down the forum, they called this lukot marine spaghetti which it resembles most. It turns out that these are actually casings for the sea hare’s eggs which are arranged inside the strands like strings of pearls and are visible as such in some of the pictures.

    Yes, you can promote this as a new taste sensation just like coffee Luwak which btw took me by surprise. Never suspected that it would happen in my lifetime, this convergence of the age-old adage “a fool and his money are soon parted,” with the equally ancient quest for a scam for fobbing off excrement for its weight in gold and I reckon that there won’t be any shortage of takers anytime soon since P T Barnum clocked their entry into this crazy world at one every minute.

  2. From the way you describe lukot, I think it’s not actually sea cucumber “poop”. A sea cucumber shoots out a sticky net to catch prey or if it’s threatened it eviscerates (shoots out) its internal organs which are then quickly regenerated. The stuff that comes out does resemble noodles and comes in different colours (yellow, powder blue). I didn’t know it’s edible. Thanks for the info.

  3. That is a fascinating link, I don’t recall ever seeing sea hares/dolabella’s on a dive, but after looking at those pictures they remind me of nudibranches (but not as pretty).
    Never tasted lukot, but is the flavor briney like caviar? or fishy? or bitter?

  4. Mila, I didn’t get a chance to taste it… and eating it raw before I knew what it was would be a real stretch for me… but my crew says it is perhaps closer to mildly briney, not bitter at all. And they have never tasted caviar so couldn’t compare… :) Will try it the next time I get a chance… Nina, I think this is different from the stuff that it squirts out. This is purposefully laid on the sea bed, not a stressed out eviscerate caused by a nasty twelve year old stepping on the sea cucumber…

  5. yuck, is all i can say..,because i always thought lukot was some kind of seaweed. and the only time i tried them was when they a few strands were floating some wonderful clam soup that i had in mactan. here in davao, i often see it presented as salad, topped by some slivered ginger, chopped tomatoes, and probably vinegar. never tried the salad, never will after the poop story :-)

  6. can this be added in the cold cuts platter–i mean does it taste the same as the seaweed that is traditionally placed with the meat and eggs?

  7. no. . . it couldn’t be sea cucumber poop, as far as i know, sea cucumber eats sand and poops them out, kinda like cleaning it, like earthworms they eat soil and poops it out. This is why sea cucumbers are important because they filter sand. . . I haven’t seen this noodle like things before. . .

  8. I don’t think its poop either, hehe but I hear that “lukot” is good for people with diabetes, it brings down blood sugar.

  9. In our barrio north of Leyte, lukot is a common fare as ingredient in tinowa or kinilaw. It is commonly known as donsol poop. Come to think of its, it never occured to us that it was gross. Perhaps because it doesnt really look like poop. Am not sure if donsol is sea cucumber in english but its color is purple, different from the usual sea cucumber we know of.

  10. MM,
    Its really poop from donsol. Its a variety of a sea cucumber that eats seaweeds. This kind of sea cucumber is also a delicacy. You can find sea cucumber where there are lots of “lusay”,(seagrass). If there are lots of lukot, it means that portion of the sea is very clean.The variety of color depends on the color of the seaweeds they are taking. I’ll bring one for you.

  11. I love lukot! We ate this when we lived in Bohol and Cebu. We make it like kinilaw. It’s good to eat coz it kind of slides thru your throat, no need to chew for a long time. hehe

  12. I grew up eating this in tinowa or in salads – it’s about the thickness of capellini, kinda slippery and easy to swallow. Briny and not gross-tasting at all. I love guso and lato much more though :)

  13. I was just thinking of lukot this morning. Like Millet I thought it was seaweed of some sort. After the Poop, secretions etc. I have completely lost my appetite for it. I had it cooked in a superb fish soup in a restaurant here in davao, now im so thankful everytime I order they ran out of the lukot and just had the fish soup instead.

  14. Blaise, I defnitely want to try it in a tinowa, but with some trepidation. After all the vast majority of people don’t balk at eating natural sausage casings from pigs, and we all know what passed through those on hundreds of occasions before they were used on the sausages! :)

  15. these lukots are worth trying. you can add them in your tinowa or just eat them like salad, with vinegar, tomatoes and chopped onions and of course siling labuyo. yuummyy! i guess you have to be bisaya to know these sea weeds. i miss seaweeds like lukot, guso or latu. i miss the crunchy ba’t or sea cucumber too.

  16. Thanks for clearing that up, MM! When I first saw the picture, I immediately assumed they were sea cucumber secretions, because, just like you, I remember seeing them on the beach as a kid, and jokingly calling the white stuff they sprayed out as “misua.” I’d never heard of nor seen sea hare/donsol before! I’d like to try lukot. If it’s anything like seaweed or lato, I think I’d like it.

    And thanks for the link to the nudibranch site. I find nudibranchs beautiful and enjoy seeing pictures of them. The writer’s descriptions of them are funny. :-)

  17. hi mm,

    i am a certified cebuano too and indeed on my part i love lukot in tinowa.yummy truly very visayan.mwah!!!!yummy!!!specially if the fish is fresh and you put it like pancit then hot soup ahhhhhhh…..

  18. I would tried it without hesitation if someone gave me a serving, but now…. Poop or not this is a very interesting post.

  19. So that’s what that is! One of my favorite restaurants in the whole country is “Konting Kuskos” in Bacolod, and they serve this kinilaw-style there. The first time I saw it, I asked my friend, “Bakit ang itim ng pansit bihon niyo dito?” With all that vinegar, I couldn’t really discern a strong taste; I sort of thought, “lasang dagat,” but it had a nice, slightly chewy texture. Not at all slimy, quite good, and the restaurant runs out of it all the time.

  20. it’s delish as the main ingredient in salad. in negros we just added sliced tomatoes, onions and vinegar mix a bit then serve. haven’t tried the version where it’s cooked as tinowa though. its real good. i will still eat it even after reading this.

  21. is that the same as “wakame,” usually served in korean or japanese restaurants, with some sesame seeds, shredded cucumber and light dressing? The flavor is like having a dose of salt water direct from the sea.

  22. we’d often have lukot at home and it never occured that it could be poop.. i always just thought it was like lukot and guso. they’re prepared and served the same way.

  23. Lukot is actually the poop of the donsol. I saw it on tv (Discovery Channel). I originally came from Manila and the first time I encountered lukot, I don’t want to have anything to do with it. (Biro mo, pancit na itim!). But now, its a must have ingredient when I cook fish tinola. You should try it with fish tinola or simply kinilaw. You’d love it.

  24. ziquatte, it is NOT POOP. If you read the entire post above and or followed the links to other sites, it appears it is precisely a secretion with eggs, NOT waste matter with sand. Perhaps the Discovery channel needs to do a bit more research?? :) shaz, I don’t think this is wakame. dhayL, tinowa is a Cebuano soup with veggies and often some fish.

  25. Sorry MM. I made a mistake. What I meant was a kind of fish that eats corals locally known as Pakol and not Donsol, the whale shark. Anyway, I will check out the links. Thanks.

  26. I never tasted lukot. Thanks for the info. When I looked at the link— there was an “a-ha!” moment- Nudibranch!!! (pronounced as nu-di-branks)I love seeing them while diving. We actually look for them when we dive! a bit difficult to find as they are small.

    kakatuwa naman to see these here!

  27. *oogles in awe*
    oh and to think Andrew Zimmermann thought he’d tasted our weirdest and wildest!
    really interesting.
    now i really want to go and taste it – but secretion is just not… appetizing.
    just call it caviar and to hell with what it really is!
    if it taste good, eat.

  28. Can you please tell me where I can buy these here in athe U.S. A friend gave me some dried ones and ones they were re-hydrated—- tasted just like the fresh ones. Would appreciate very much. thanks

  29. Thanks for the information. I grew up eating lukot. This is one of my favorite dishes. I always thought it is seaweed, not until recently when my husband told me it’s a secretion. I thought my husband was just joking and I did not believe him. This has prompted me to search online till I found this site. What I’m more interested to know is the nutritional value of this great tasting dish.

  30. In Gubat, Sorsogon we call it LISWA and it is edible. It taste just like any seaweed specialy with kalamansi. As far as I know it is the entrail of a sea cucumber but never a poop. You will never know until you have tasted it and it is very different by just imagining it. My uncle said once that it is an aprodisiac.

  31. I love to eat lukot. My dad who grew up in San Carlos City in Negros Occidental introduced it to me. I also like to eat guso and lato. I never thought of it as gross but just a normal local food.

  32. I have conducted a reseach to be sure that my data is correct regarding the issue of what you call “lukot.” I went back to Gubat, Sorsogon and interviewed those who sell it, and I discovered that; the one in your picture is called “laksa” and they claimed that it is a secretion from sea cucumber, the “liswa” is quite different because it is not secreted, you have to dissect a sea cucumber to get it. In addition, laska taste like bihon.

  33. I would like to add that laksa is seasonal, therefore it is not what you call a poop coz if they do it once a year then they might die of indegistation.

  34. hi there,
    natwa nmn ako sa blog u pero very informational ha!

    i love lokot so much! especially on kinilaw, for i do make kinilaw when i take vacation in my hometown-cebu!

    i used coconut milk and lots of spices, i used flying fish for my kinilaw, and put lots of chilis on it and whola!!

    it sure taste good for my families and friends loves it and asked me me to make more!! I even told my husband that it is a fish poop and he said.. “there is no way you can let me eat that, a fish poop?! no thank you!!! lolz.. it is so funny but i did explained to him what is really is and showed him some pics.. i surely miss my kinilaw na tlga eh!! huhuhuh.. miss philippines too and all my families and friends..

  35. i love your blog.

    6 yrs ago we had an argument where lukot comes from: seaweed or fish’s defecation. im glad now its been clarified. :D

  36. I’m not really surprise about these info. In fact, way back in my college days 2 years ago, I have made a research regarding on the egg string of sea hares (Dolabella auricularia species). It is edible. But what’s interest me more is the life inside it. I’ve entitled my research as “Fecundity of sea hare egg strings under cage condition”. I counted the eggs of each bunch that I’ve collected. It gave me quite interest to discover that this bunches were consists of hundreds, and some even reached millions of eggs enclosed in a clear capsule. Whew! So fascinating, that in such simple sea creatures, there are millions of life awaits for them to reached their development stage. So, to those person who love eating the “marine spaghetti” of the Philippines,… You’re eating the baby sea hares…and this hobby…may lead into sea hare depletion….Come to think of it.. :-)

  37. clariss, from where are you in the philippines. can i have a copy of the results of your study.. thanks. i am planning to work on the egg mass of sea hare but on the post harvest aspect.. however, your study can serve as my reference too.

    thanks so much in advance

  38. I was so SHOCKED to find out it’s not sea weed but the secretion of a sea hare.

    Ate it twice…(Taste good, though… almost like a fishy smell kind of noodles).
    And got really curious what it is…Because when I asked the locals
    –they just give this very long smile.

    However, does anyone know the nutritional value of this “sea spaghetti”?
    If any…?

Comments are closed.



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.