Guts, Frogs, Bugs and Everything Wild: Top 10 Exotic Food to try in the Philippines

Isaw by anna_d via Flickr
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Top 10 Exotic Food in the Philippines

Guts, Frogs, Bugs, Urchins, and Snails, who would ever thought that you could even eat them right? Well, for thrill seeking and wonder driven people, anything can be turned into a foodgasmic wonder (not that everyone is a fan of exotic food).

Balut by Meng via Flickr
Balut by Meng via Flickr

Exotic food are found all over the world, like the Soup no. 5, which is basically a soup made from cow, or bull testicles, Fugu, for its delicate taste and the risk of dying from tetrodotoxins (if it’s not prepared correctly!) and live Gae-bool for its superbly weird alien-like appearance (Spoonworm).

But did you know that there are some equally strange foods here in the PH? Listed below are the top 10 exotic dishes in the country. Eating these sort of dishes isn’t really for the faint-hearted (especially if you’re not accustomed to these things), but for strange food fanatics, these would surely make it to their must-taste-this-before-I-die list.

1. Isaw, Betamax, Gizzard

Isaw by anna_d via Flickr
Isaw by anna_d via Flickr

This might just be the mildest among the rest of the items on this list. All of these three are grilled, and there are basically sold everywhere in the country, most especially in places near university belts. Isaw is chicken intestines, betamax is grilled blood cubes, and gizzard is basically grilled chicken gizzard. Other culture also eat innards, in fact there’s a couple of words pertaining to innards such as Giblet, for chicken neck, heart and liver, Numbles for animal entrails.

2. Balut

Balut (photo courtesy of Kinobe)
Balut (photo courtesy of Kinobe)

Evenings would never be complete without hearing some vendor calling out “baloooooooot!”. Some vendors walk, others would be in their bicycles. But did you ever try to buy one? If you haven’t and you’re wondering what it is, then it’s a duck egg. To be more specific, it’s a developed duck egg, which of course means that there’s a little baby duck inside it. It’s very popular among the locals. It has this bit of broth that has a distinct taste, and some egg yolk and hardened albumen. Some would put vinegar in it, others would just put a bit of salt.

3. Betute Tugak (Deep fried stuffed frogs) Pampanga

Betute Tugak by Rom via Flickr
Betute Tugak by Rom via Flickr

Fancy deep-fried frogs with meat stuffing? They always say that frogs taste like chicken and they do. That in itself is comforting, just close your eyes and imagine you’re eating chicken if you’re having second thoughts on eating this. Betute Tugak is quite popular in Pampanga. These frogs are those that roam around farms during the rainy season. They’d remove the skin, season it with salt and pepper and stuff it with sautéed ground pork.

4. Kinilaw na Tamilok in Palawan and Aklan (Shipworm or Woodworm dipped in Salt and Vinegar)

Tamilok by Erwin Oliva via Flickr
Tamilok by Erwin Oliva via Flickr

Kinilaw is a popular way of preparing seafood especially shelled mollusks. Kinilaw is quite similar to ceviche, where you would need some acidic solution to “cook” the ingredients. They basically soak it in either vinegar or calamansi juice with bits of ginger, and minced garlic and they leave it for a bit. This is then served as is. Tamilok is a bivalve mollusk that is attached in mangroves. They look like worms inside, but they taste like the typical oyster. So imagine your typical oyster served in kinilaw style and you would get an idea of how this would taste like.

5. Abuos (Ant Eggs) Ilocos

Abuos Adobo by louis r via Flickr
Abuos Adobo by louis r via Flickr

Let’s now look at the bug choices in this menu. These creepy crawlers might put you off a bit, but you might be surprised how other culture also eat red ant eggs, like in Thailand and Mexico. In Thailand, they cook it with lemongrass, garlic and chilies. In Mexico, they call it as escamole and they serve it pan fried in butter and spices. Ilocos serves it sautéed with garlic and tomatoes.

6. Adobong Kamaru (Mole Cricket), Pampanga

Adobong Kamaru
Adobong Kamaru by gen-edstudents.blogspot.com

Rice fields would often have Kamaru. These can be a little bit of a pest, so to counter them, farmers harvest these insects and people found ways on how to eat them. Served mostly in adobo style (which would mean to cook it in sautéed garlic, soy sauce and vinegar) this peculiar dish is more oftenly eaten together with beer. These are crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside and they’re quite commonly sold in Pampanga.

7. Adobong Uok (Beetle Larvae) Rizal

Uok or Coconut Worm
Uok or Coconut Worm by conquistadorc

If you’re an avid fan of Andrew Zimmerman’s show, Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmerman, you might have already came across with Adobong Uok. They live in dead coconut logs. Natives would collect them and eat them raw or cooked adobo style. It has an interesting texture and taste that people from around the globe are a fan off.

8. Adobong Salagubang (June Bugs) Nueva Ecija

If you have tried Adobong Kamaru, you should also indulge in Adobong Salagubang. They have the same texture, crunchy on the outside and mushy and juicy on the inside. They are common around the rainy season in the markets of Nueva Ecija, so if you’re out to have a bite of this crispy delicacy, then you might consider dropping by Ecija when the rain starts falling.

9. Adobong Sawa (Python)

Sawa can be found anywhere, especially in places with vast farmlands. They are also quite common in exotic restaurants. Sawa meat tastes more like chicken and they are either fried or cooked in adobo style. Their skin is also deep fried and served in Cabanatuan Nueva Ecija. Compared to the adobong bugs mentioned earlier, this dish would certainly not be so off putting especially for newbies in the field of eating exotic food.

10. Salawaki (Fresh Sea Urchin) Bohol

Fresh Sea Urchins
Fresh Sea Urchins by Caspar Diederik via Flickr

Who wouldn’t know about Sea Urchins? They’re very popular aphrodisiacs and they’re common around places near the sea especially in Bohol, Bolinao, and La Union. These are spiny sea creatures with yellow or orange insides. Their texture is similar to that of oysters and they are best eaten raw and fresh.

The Philippines does have a lot of things to offer apart from Instagram worthy shots, to worth mentioning in blog experiences. Eating these exotic food would just amp up the ultimate vacation experience, the question now is, Do you have the stomach to try these dishes?

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