What's The Difference: Pako Vs. Lato
Both are green vegetables that are enjoyed fresh.
ILLUSTRATOR Louis Miguel A. Talao
The pako and the lato are two kinds of fresh green vegetables that are found in the wet markets. If you've never heard of them,¬†you might be wondering what these might look like and what they taste like. Here are the facts you need to know about these two fresh ingredients:¬†
1 Pako is a fern. Lato is a seaweed.¬†
Pako is¬†the local name¬†for fiddlehead ferns. It's commonly found in the¬†provinces where these can¬†be grown and harvested in the wild. The fiddlehead¬†fern is actually a pretty ornamental plant that¬†is¬†edible.¬†It's characterized¬†by its gorgeous curled tips¬†which look like the head of a¬†violin, also known as a fiddle.¬†
Lato is a marine plant, a seaweed. It's popularly known as sea grapes because¬†the seaweed grows like little globes in a bunch that does look like green grapes growing on a stem. These are very small globes, measuring around 10¬†millimeters in diameter each.¬†
2 Pako tastes like a fresh, leafy green while lato tastes like the sea.¬†
The¬†best way to enjoy either¬†ingredient¬†is fresh. Pako is a delicate fern and just like many leafy greens, it's a delicious¬†fresh taste. However, unlike some salad greens, it's more grassy in taste and it's got a rough¬†texture with leaves that are sharp enough to cut¬†your mouth if you¬†eat the more mature leaves. That's why the tender, unfurled heads and upper young leaves are usually the only parts of the pako¬†that are used in dishes.¬†
The lato meanwhile are like many seaweed: it tastes like the sea. Unlike other seaweed, the fun is in the eating. The little globes are known as grapes for a reason: these literally pop in your mouth with a burst of salt. That's because¬†those little pearls contain¬†seawater, filtered and stored in its bubbles. This¬†is also why when preparing lato, the pearls can grow bigger when soaked in water than when you originally brought them home. It absorbs the water¬†giving you juicier pearls when ready to eat.¬†
How do you prepare pako and lato for dishes?¬†
Both ingredients are easy to prepare. Pako need a quick rinse just like other leafy greens while¬†lato can be rinsed and soaked¬†if it's drying up. Rinsing lato however is best done quickly so that its briny¬†ocean taste will not be¬†completely washed away. You can also¬†rinse with salty water to return its delicious¬†salty taste.¬†
Here are recipes to try if you're curious to taste these two ingredients in a salad:¬†
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