The Philippines is renowned for its exotic cuisine, where Filipinos embrace a bold and adventurous palate.
From fried frogs, worms, snakes, and rats to pig’s membranes, we Pinoys indulge in a wide range of unique delicacies that make Filipino food truly unforgettable. If you’re feeling adventurous, try any of these exotic local dishes!
1. Tamilok (Shipworm or clam)
Tamilok, also known as woodworm or shipworm, is a unique Filipino delicacy found in Palawan and Aklan. Although it resembles a worm, the Tamilok is actually a mollusk that bores into decaying wood in mangroves.
Vendors typically serve this exotic treat in a ceviche style known as “kinilaw,” but adventurous eaters are encouraged to enjoy Tamilok by swallowing it whole for the full experience.
2. Uok (Beetle Larva)
Uok is a coconut rhinoceros beetle larva that is commonly found in Rizal’s dead coconut logs. Natives consume it raw, while others prefer it grilled on skewers or cooked in adobo style.
Despite its unusual appearance, many people are drawn to it because of its delicious coconut flavor, which provides them the full satisfaction.
3. Salagubang (Beetle)
Salagubang, or June Bug, is a popular delicacy in Nueva Ecija where these beetles are abundant. It has a flavor that is similar to chicken meat, with a balanced mix of sourness and sweetness, leaving no aftertaste and providing a juicy experience.
Some cook it in adobo or kinamatisan, while others fry it to make it crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, making it ideal for “pulutan,” or appetizers served with alcohol.
4. Balut (Duck Embryo)
Balut is essentially a developing duck embryo, broth, egg yolk, and hardened albumen. Despite its intimidating appearance, balut is a street food delicacy that is often enjoyed in the Philippines, particularly at night.
Don’t let its looks scare you off! Try it with some salt and vinegar, then take a brave bite to discover a surprisingly delicious flavor.
Close your eyes and embrace the one-of-a-kind experience; you might be surprised at how enjoyable it can be.
5. Kamaru (Insects)
Kamaru is an exotic Kapampangan dish made from mole crickets, which are commonly found in Pampanga’s rice paddies. Mole crickets are typically prepared adobo-style or deep-fried.
Kamaru is not only a unique and interesting dish, but it is also a good source of protein and B vitamins. That’s why those brave enough to try this exotic delicacy will be rewarded not only with a flavorful culinary experience but also with nutrition.
6. Abuos (Ant Eggs)
Abuos is an exotic Ilocano dish made from ant eggs or larvae that has a legume-like appearance and is usually sautéed with garlic, cooked in adobo style, or even eaten raw.
Some people enjoy Abuos for its buttery, nutty flavor and soft texture, similar to cottage cheese, while others consume it for its aphrodisiac properties.
7. Betute Tugak (Frog)
Betute means frog, so the name Betute Tugak refers to deep-fried frogs with meat stuffing, a popular dish in Pampanga.
Rice field frogs are usually used for this dish because they’re notably larger than common frogs. In this dish, the frog’s skin is removed before it is stuffed with pork or seasoned ground meat and deep-fried to perfection.
8. Dinuguan (Pig’s Blood)
Dinuguan, a flavorful Filipino dish, features tender pork meat, garlic, chili, and vinegar, simmered in pig’s blood. It’s often enjoyed alongside “puto,” a type of steamed rice cake, and can be found in various Filipino restaurants.
The name “Dinuguan” originates from the Tagalog word “dugo,” meaning “blood” in English. This explains why the dish has a dark hue, resembling a rich blood soup.
9. Isaw (Intestine)
Isaw, also known as grilled chicken or pig intestines, is a popular street food found throughout the Philippines. Street vendors prepare it by cleaning the intestines, boiling them, skewering them on barbecue sticks, and grilling them to perfection.
Filipinos love isaw and usually eat it with spiced vinegar or soy sauce dip. Interestingly, Filipinos also call chicken isaw “IUD” (intrauterine device), whereas pork isaw is jokingly referred to as “mag wheels.”
10. Betamax (Chicken or Pork Blood)
Betamax is dried chicken or pork blood cubes that have been grilled. Its name comes from its dark, blocky appearance, which resembles Betamax cassette tapes.
This chewy delicacy is served with a sauce-like vinegar or chili mix, and it has a rich and savory flavor that makes it also a popular street food throughout the country.