Metro Manila, Philippines
Metro Manila, Philippines
Travelers and tourists from all over the globe are drawn to the Philippines for a variety of reasons, including the country’s rich cultural heritage, its beautiful natural landscapes, and the warm friendliness of its people. The country’s coastlines, mountains, hills, rivers, and islands help the Philippines become a popular tourist destination. Alongside the flourishing tourist business in the archipelagic country, there are also a lot of bizarre foods that are just waiting to be explored.
The strangeness of these dishes can’t be disputed. The stomachs of some Filipinos aren’t even strong enough to handle some of them, but if you’re an adventurous eater who’s ready for a challenge, hunt down these strange Filipino delicacies to satiate your appetite and your sense of wonder.
The Philippines is home to a unique and unusual kind of soup known as “Soup Number 5.” The bull’s genital organs, the penis, and the testes make up the bulk of it. To make soup number 5, aromatics and meat are sautéed and boiled until they are tender. This soup is famous at Manila’s streetside restaurants, particularly in neighborhoods where a large Filipino Chinese population lives, such as Binondo.
The dish goes by the name of lansiao (which means “male genitals” in the Hokkien dialect) in Cebu, where it is quite popular. It is speculated that the earliest Chinese immigrants of Hokkien ancestry were the ones responsible for the creation of this cuisine. There have been claims that soup is an aphrodisiac, although no research has shown this to be true.
Want to try making it yourself? Try a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/soup-number-5/
The Pasil district of Cebu City is known for its popular Filipino strange delicacy street meal called tuslob buwa, which roughly means “dip in bubbles” in English. Pork liver and brain are the primary components in this dish, which is then cooked with garlic, onions, shrimp paste, and chili peppers. Bubbles begin to form in the mixture as soon as it’s ready, which is when you dip a pandan-wrapped rice ball into it. It is often offered by street sellers and is designed to be shared between a group of people gathered around a hot wok, each taking turns to dip their rice balls into the simmering stew.
It’s hard to find tuslob-buwa anywhere else in the country but you can give making it yourself a go: https://www.atbp.ph/2016/09/07/tuslob-buwa-cebu/
Crowned as the termite of the sea, Tamilok is a mollusc that is sometimes mistaken for a woodworm. In the Palawan islands, tamilok is considered a delicacy and is prepared similarly to kinilaw: marinated in vinegar or lime juice and garnished with finely chopped chili peppers and onion. In most cases, Tamilok will burrow into wooden constructions as well as the many mangroves that can be found in the towns of Coron, El Nido, and Linapacan. When it comes to flavor, this squirmy delicacy is often likened to oysters because of its texture and flavor.
Read more about tamilok here: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2020.575416/full
The Kapampangan strange delicacy known as kamaru is composed of mole bugs, which are also known as rice-field crickets because they are most commonly found in rice fields in the province of Pampanga. The mole crickets are typically sautéed with garlic, onion, and tomatoes before being boiled in vinegar the reason it becomes one of the strange Filipino delicacies. The bug may also be prepared adobo-style, where the meat is simply swapped with the insect. The use of kamaru as a substitute for meat is not only more cost-effective, but it also provides extra nutritional benefits, such as vitamin B and protein.
Ant eggs that have been sautéed in garlic are the centerpiece of this dinner. When you bite into the eggs, you are greeted with a flavor that is savory, crunchy, and chewy all at the same time. These ants may be found in the towns and mountains around the city as well as out in the countryside. There are some trees in the forest where the ants will make a nest out of the leaves in order to deposit their eggs. The eggs are very delicate and are often referred to as the “caviar of Ilocos.”
Learn more about it here: https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/229838-popular-ant-egg-dish-ilocos-sur/
Betamax is the name given to a portion of popular street food in the Philippines. It’s dried chicken blood that has been cut into cubes and then cooked over an open flame. After being drained from the chicken, the blood is put in a container to be cooled. This produces a somewhat runny, gelatinous substance that has to be scalded to solidify. After that, it is chopped into cube forms, and at that point, the pieces begin to look like Betamax tape, which is where the name comes from.
Intestines from either chicken or pig are used to make the popular street snack known as “isaw” in the Philippines. It’s the quintessential Filipino street food that can be found just about anywhere in the country. There are even food carts on the street called “isawan” that are devoted only to making this food. After being meticulously cleaned, it’s boiled, skewered on a wooden stick, grilled, and flavored with a combination of vinegar, peppers, and spices. In the Philippines, you’ll probably see isaw being sold alongside other popular street foods like Betamax.
You can try making a stick of isaw on your own: https://www.tasteatlas.com/isaw/recipe
Chicken feet, often known as adidas due to their resemblance to the logo of a prominent shoe company, are another kind of popular grilled street food that can be found in the Philippines. A tangy sauce made of calamansi juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and a variety of spices is first used to marinade this delectable and unique Filipino street food. After the marinating stage, the next step is to cook the meat on a grill. The consistency may be characterized as being somewhere in the middle between firm and crunchy.
No list pertaining to wonderfully bizarre Filipino foods will be complete without the inclusion of Balut–boiled fertilized duck eggs. Possibly the most well-known peculiar food in the Philippines, Balut has reached global popularity to the point that eating it is a common challenge in some TV shows, such as Survivor. The most common way to eat Balut is by slurping the liquid after cracking the shell apart and seasoning it.
Then, remove the remaining egg’s shell and consume the rest. You may want to avoid eating the egg white because it can be too rubbery. It’s common for the eggs to be labeled with numbers that show their incubation period in terms of days. The greater the number, the more developed the duck embryo will be within the egg. They are often carried about by street vendors who have baskets to carry them in.
Learn more about balut here: https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/consumer_protection/FoodSafety/Eggs-Fruit-Vegetables/Documents/FactSheet-Balut.pdf
Photo from: Keith Kelly | Flickr
In truth, there is nothing filthy or weird about the taste of Sundot Kulangot. Nevertheless, it deserves a spot on this list because of its unusual appearance and its undeniably nonsensical name. You see, sundot kulangot literally means “to poke a snot” or “pick one’s booger, ” all because of the way this traditional Filipino candy is eaten. It is made out of kalamay or sticky rice flour as well as molasses (or brown sugar) and coconut milk.
Possessing a sweet taste that is comparable to that of coconut jams, sundot kulangot is a tiny goo of candy placed inside small and circular wooden containers. Individuals who would want a taste of this unique treat are faced with the minor challenge of cutting or breaking the tiny wooden containers in half and either using a wooden stick or their fingers to scoop out the gooey candy.
Learn more about Sundot Kulangot here: https://penfires.com/anatomy-of-sundot-kulangot-baguios-top-pasalubong-series/
Photo from: Lutong Bahay Recipe
Next on the list is dinuguan (which translates to “cooked with blood”). It is a traditional Filipino dish that is made of either chopped pig meat or pig chaff such as heart, lungs, ears, and kidneys, or a mixture of both. These ingredients are cooked and stewed with pork blood, hence the name. Apart from pork blood, its savory taste and distinct texture are also made possible by the mixture of vinegar, chili, garlic, and peppers. Although locals pair this savory dish with hot steamed rice, many Filipinos would say that dinuguan is best paired and eaten with puto, a rice cake delicacy that is considered to be one of the most popular Filipino cake snacks.
Learn its recipe here: https://www.kawalingpinoy.com/dinuguan/
Photo from: Conquistadorc | WordPress
Since there exists an exotic (fried, grilled, or stewed) beetle of strange Filipino delicacies called salagubang in the province of Nueva Ecija, it should be hardly unexpected that Uok is a delicacy. Uok is a beetle larva that is typically found inside rotting coconut logs in Rizal Province; as bizarre as it may sound for non-Rizaleños, uok is a well-liked snack often sold in the streets of the said province.
What’s more, this exotic dish, just like the salagubang, uok can either be impaled and grilled, fried, or even used as a main ingredient for adobo. If you are interested in eating this dish but are having second thoughts due to it being made from beetle larva, you really don’t have to worry. Why? It is because uok is a protein-rich delicacy that has a uniquely unforgettable texture and savors.
Want to know more about Uok? Click this link and learn more: https://www.8list.ph/most-bizarre-exotic-food-philippines/2/
Photo from: Arthur L. Allad-iw
Known as the “smoked mountain ham” of the Igorots, etag is a deliciously unique delicacy. In order to make etag, a butchered pig is salted and then either smoked or preserved for a number of weeks in clay jars. After weeks of preservation, the result is definitely not suitable for anyone who is easily alarmed. You see, once they open the clay jars, the preserved pork emits a strong, foul smell, while the meat itself is already black in color and is now infested with maggots. Nevertheless, without this preferred indigenous meat, Cordillera customs would be incomplete; in fact, the Igorots even created a festival just for it.
Learn more about the Igorot ham here: https://nordis.net/2014/02/09/article/opinion/columns/makan/etag-the-sagada-igorot-ham/
A trip to the Philippines isn’t complete until travelers have a taste of some of these wonderfully strange Filipino delicacies, which are unlike anything else in the world. There are several opportunities to go out of your comfort zone and experience true Filipino culture, like learning about the local culinary traditions of the places you’re visiting or trying something daring and different.
[…] Despite her mother’s hard work, the money she earned was not really enough to support the needs of their family. Their family struggled so badly that they sometimes did not have the financial capacity to cook and eat a decent meal. According to her, there are days that they would only eat salt partnered with rice and days where they would settle for rice mixed with soy sauce and cooking oil just so their meal would taste like Adobo. […]