One variety is called Lato.
Lato becomes slimier the older it gets. The plant material (the “flesh” if you will) literally dissolves with time. Therefore, the fresher the lato, the crispier it is.
Lato or seagrapes, is also known to come mainly from Palawan, and Puerto Princesa City has all the varieties, including the famous latong Cuyo. This is the most succulent variety among all the ordinary lato of Palawan. The others are the lomo-lomo, keseg-keseg, lapad, goso, paket-paket and the extremely rare latong butones.
The other kind is called Paket-paket.
These two photos are scaled similarly. These photos were both taken at the same distance away from the dinner plate. The branches and nodes of paket-paket are that tiny compared to lato’s.
Taste opinion: I’ve also tasted the seaweeds used in Japanese (one variety) and Chinese (one) cuisine already. Of the four varieties I’ve tasted so far, lato is the tastiest. The globules don’t burst in the mouth but they create a crunch. I’ve eaten paket-paket at dinner several times now and I still feel like a cow or rabbit eating it. I don’t think this seaweed is in danger of becoming extinct.
Paket-paket description from a blog post overview:
The paket-paket is crunchy, brittle seaweed, tiny sticks with tinier bulbs in them, better eaten in small quantities, since it leaves a pronounced bitter aftertaste afterwards.
Without doing any googling, I can tell you that seaweed is rich in iodine, an essential mineral. Iodine is so important that one of our glands–the thyroid gland–evolved specifically to just manage the body’s supply of iodine.
If the thyroid gland is unable to manage our iodine supply, then…
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck just below your Adam’s apple. Sometimes the thyroid gland grows larger than normal — a condition known as goiter. Although goiters are usually painless, a large goiter can cause a cough and make it difficult for you to swallow or breathe.
The most common cause of goiter worldwide is a lack of iodine in the diet.
Iodine is too important to not to be actively managed by our bodies.
The American Thyroid Association recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women take a vitamin with iodine because low iodine can increase the risk of miscarriage and thyroid problems, in addition to mental disabilities in babies.
Iodine, which is present in iodized salt, seafood, eggs, dairy, and some breads, is used by the thyroid gland to help regulate metabolism and development, especially in babies and young kids.
Iodine deficiency during fetal and early-childhood development is a leading cause of brain impairments in much of the world.
What the thyroid gland does
The thyroid gland controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones. It participates in these processes by producing thyroid hormones. These hormones are synthesized from iodine and other elements.
Have you heard of these expressions?
- Hyperthyroidism–overactive thyroid gland
- Hypothyroidism–underactive thyroid gland
Our bodies require an amount of thyroid hormone that falls within a specific range. Babies and children need more. Consequently, expecting mothers do too.
Thyroid hormone is important at a cellular level, affecting nearly every type of tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone functions as a controller of the pace of all of the processes in the body. This pace is called the metabolic rate. If there is too much thyroid hormone, every function of the body tends to speed up. Therefore, some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are nervousness, irritability, increased perspiration, heart racing, hand tremors, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, thinning of the skin, fine brittle hair, and muscular weakness—especially in the upper arms and thighs. More frequent bowel movements may occur, but diarrhea is uncommon. Weight loss, sometimes significant, despite a good appetite may occur, vomiting, and, for women, menstrual flow may lighten and menstrual periods may occur less often.
At Puerto Princesa’s market, lato sells for about 100 pesos per kilo while paket-paket, if available, sells for about 80 pesos per kilo.
If you’d like to learn more about seaweeds, here’s an excellent resource.