Filipino cuisine is very diverse. Our food has influences coming from Asian to European cuisine, specifically from Chinese and Spanish cooking. However, there are some dishes that’s unique to us. Below are some weird local foods that we Pinoys eat. Some of these are the result of our resourcefulness, while others are dishes that have survived along with the beliefs and practices of our ethnic groups.
Soup No. 5
Soup no.5 is a well-known dish served in specialty restaurants and karinderyas. The soup is made with bull testicles and penis. Cebuanos have their own version called “lanciao”, but it contains the same primary ingredient. It’s known to be a popular aphrodisiac, which is why those who serve it often only offer it at night. It’s also a common meal to have if you want to sober up after drinking a little too much.
This is a sweet treat made with sticky rice cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar. Though it’s a popular treat, its name makes it less appetizing. Sundot kulangot literally means “pick a booger”, which describes the strange way of eating it. The sweet rice mixture is packed into small wooden orbs so you have to pick it out using a popsicle stick or your fingers. This is commonly found in the Northern Luzon provinces, especially in Baguio City where it’s sold as a pasalubong.
Crispy Chicken Nails
The feet are the dirtiest parts of the body —be it human or animal. Yet a lot of us don’t mind munching on chicken feet. Chicken feet is cleaned properly before it’s cooked, and often times the nails are chopped off and thrown away. However, we Filipinos really don’t like to waste food. Some of us keep the chicken nails, clean them, and fry them. They’re breaded with a seasoned batter for added flavor before frying. Crispy chicken nails are a popular pulutan or beer-match.
No weird food list will be complete without balut. Westerners tend to be horrified of this delicacy and would often eat this as a one-time experience. But eating balut is not a unique practice to the Philippines. In fact, many other Southeast Asian countries eat balut. The yuck factor really comes from seeing the duck embryo as you peel off the shell. But if you just close your eyes and take it in one bite, you’ll find that it actually has a taste similar to liver.
Like many Southeast Asian countries, insects are also part of our unique cuisine. Kamaru is common in Pampanga, which is known as the country’s culinary capital. These are rice field crickets that are deep fried or cooked adobo style. Aside from the fact that you’ll be eating an insect, the strange crunchiness from their legs and wings and the juice that comes out of their abdomen adds to the yucky factor. Kamaru is actually rich in protein, like all insect dishes, which means that it’s good for you.
This dish got its name from the way it’s prepared. Pinikpikan is a native chicken that is beaten to death, which causes little blood-clots to form on its meat. This is a dish that the indigenous people of the Bontoc tribe is known for. Lightly beating the chicken is said to help tenderize it and boosts its flavor. It’s then cooked into a soup and flavored with salt and traditional cured pork or “etag”.
A dish unique to Cebu City, tuslob-buwa is made with pig brains, pork fat, liver, soy sauce, and broth made from pork bones. Eating tuslob-buwa is an experience on its own. You sit in front of a pan with a flaming burner under it. The pork brain and liver is cooked in pork fat, and the broth is gradually added to it. Soy sauce is used to flavor the mix. The mixture is then left to reduce until it becomes a thick sauce. It’s ready when bubbles start appearing, which explains where the dish got its name (tuslob-buwa literally means “dip into bubbles”). The dish is eaten by dipping rice balls or “puso” into the sauce.
This is made with fermented rice which is then mixed with fresh chicken blood before serving. It’s an important dish to serve in traditional celebrations in the Mountain Province. The process of how this is made is complex and time consuming. Cooked balatinaw, which is a special variety of red rice, is left to ferment inside a jar for 3 weeks. Once the tapuy (the liquid part) is harvested, what’s left is the lepeg. It has a sour taste to it, while the long storage process gives it its distinct smell.
A slimy and salty dish, many people compare eating tamilok with eating raw oysters. Raw tamilok or shipworms is prepared by marinating it with onions, chilies, and vinegar. A local delicacy in Palawan, tamilok is harvested from mangroves that surround the many beaches in the area. They’re dubbed as the “termites of the sea” since they often destroy the wood they burrow in.
Etag is native pork that’s been cured by ether storing in earthen jars for weeks (better known as binurong baboy) or smoking. This is considered as the Mountain Province’s official ham. It’s prepared by salting pork and curing it by storing or smoking. The final product is foul-smelling and is rotting with maggots. It’s a staple dish served in traditional festivals in the Cordillera province.
These strange delicacy offer an adventure to foodies who want to try our unique dishes. Although some of these dishes are a bit difficult to stomach, many people often develop a newfound love for these delicacies.