Caulerpa lentillifera [Everything You Should Know]

Caulerpa lentillifera

Caulerpa lentillifera is a type of green algae found in coastal regions of the Asia-Pacific area.

It’s one of the favored species of edible Caulerpa because of its soft and tasty texture.

This seaweed is eaten in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and East Asia.

It’s also known as Sea Grapes or Green Caviar in English.

What Does Caulerpa lentillifera Look Like?

Caulerpa lentillifera is a siphonous macroalgae, which means it’s a giant single cell with multiple nuclei. It can grow up to 30 cm in length.

Instead of leaves, this algae has bubbles that burst in the mouth, releasing a yummy umami taste.

How Is Caulerpa lentillifera Grown?

Traditionally, Caulerpa lentillifera was harvested directly from the wild.

The first commercial cultivation was in the 1950s in Cebu, Philippines, after it was accidentally introduced to fish ponds.

Today, there are around 400 hectares of ponds in Cebu, producing around 12 to 15 tons of fresh Caulerpa lentillifera every year.

It’s usually harvested after two months from the first planting, and every two weeks after that depending on growth rates.

Japan started commercially growing Caulerpa lentillifera in 1968, cultivating it in tanks in the warmer waters of Okinawa.

Its cultivation has spread to other countries, like Vietnam, Taiwan, and China. Most of the production is for domestic use, but some are exported to Japan.

How Is Caulerpa lentillifera Used in Cooking?

Caulerpa Lentillifera, along with C. racemosa, has been traditionally eaten in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and East Asia.

It’s usually eaten raw on its own or in salads and has a taste like the ocean. It’s known to be rich in iodine.

In the Philippines

In the Philippines, it’s called latô or arosep. After being washed in clean water, it’s eaten raw as a salad (ensaladang lato) mixed with chopped raw shallots and fresh tomatoes, and dressed with a blend of fish sauce or bagoong (fish paste) and vinegar.

Its popularity has spread to the Malaysian state of Sabah due to the migrations of the Bajau peoples, where it’s spelled latok.

In Japan

In Okinawa, Japan, it’s known as umi-budo, meaning ‘sea grapes’, or kubiretsuta.

It’s served dipped in ponzu, made into sushi, added to salads, or eaten as is.

In Other Countries

Caulerpa lentillifera is eaten in Vietnam, where it’s called rong nho or rong nho biển, meaning ‘grape algae.’

It’s also eaten in Korea, where it’s known as bada podo, also meaning ‘sea grapes’; and in Indonesia (particularly Bali), where it is known as bulung.

You can check out what this plant looks like over here.

Caulerpa lentillifera Characteristics

Care Level:Moderate
Growth Rate:Fast
Required Lighting:High
Required Water Flow:Moderate
Is Palatable?Yes
Maximum Size:6 in (15.2 cm)

Scientific Classification

Scientific Name:Caulerpa lentillifera
Also Known As:Small Sea Grapes
Conservation Status:Unknown

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