Most of the time, it’s easy to win over foreigners with Filipino dishes like sinigang, adobo, or kinilaw. But then there are dishes that scare them off, along with some fellow Filipinos. Depending on your disposition, these parts of Philippine cuisine are either exciting or frightening.
With Halloween just around the corner, consider doing a taste test of the weird Filipino dishes below:
Probably the most recognizable of the Philippines’ “scary” cuisine, balut is an 11-day old duck boiled to perfection. It’s so famous that it’s made appearances on international TV shows like Fear Factor and Survivor. It’s also a favorite of Filipinos looking to freak out foreign visitors.
If you’re looking to bring some heat into the bedroom, mischievous Filipinos will probably tell you to include Soup Number 5 to your diet. The soup is made from a bulls testicles and penis, and is considered an aphrodisiac. While there’s no study confirming this, it hasn’t stopped people from trying out this dish.
This particular delicacy has a bite that’s worse than its bite. When translated, this snack’s name is “poke a booger.” That is definitely off-putting, but the snack itself is practically harmless. It’s just gelatinous rice cooked with brown sugar and coconut milk, so you’re basically eating a sweet.
So where did the unusual name come from? It probably comes from the way you have to eat it. You break the small wooden orb that encases it and use your finger to pick it out — just like you would a booger.
This one is a dish we share with a few of our Asian neighbors. It’s also a dish served in countries like Brazil, Mexico, and Peru to name a few. The most common version of this in the country is probably “adidas”, which is marinated chicken feet grilled by sidewalk vendors. But it’s also been cooked in different ways, either as adobo or a spicy chicken dish.
Dont’ confuse this with camaron rebosado, the Philippine dish similar to Japan’s ebi tempura. Kamaru is made out of crickets gathered from rice fields, and is cooked adobo-style. Live insects are already a hard sell for visiting foreigners. Asking them to take a bite out of one, no matter how it’s cooked, may still take a lot of convincing.
What may scare foreigners about pinikpikan isn’t so much the taste but the preparation. Pinikpikan is prepared by beating a chicken to death with a stick, which is sure to rile the sensibilities of those sensitive to animal rights. As for the taste? It tastes a lot like native chicken tinola.
Just like sundot kulangot, this dish takes its name from the way you eat it. However, it definitely isn’t as innocuous as that sugary treat. Tuslob-Buwa is made from pork brain and liver cooked with chili, salt, and other spices until it bubbles. That’s when you dip a rice ball into it and then eat it.
Fermentation involves the breakdown of sugars into alcohol. While the end product — beer, wine, liquor — is enjoyable, the side products may not always be. Lepeg is the rice left over during the fermentation of tapuy, a traditional rice wine. It’s sour and foul-smelling as a result of the long fermentation process.
The tamilok is a worm dubbed as the termite of the sea, and just by that moniker you already know it’s going to be difficult to sell this to foreigners. The tamilok is a Palawan delicacy, and is cooked kinilaw-style: marinated in vinegar or lime juice, and choppped chili peppers and onions.
When food has maggots on it, it’s pretty much a sure sign that it shouldn’t be eaten. But try telling that to the people of Sagada. Etag is Sagada’s official ham, and is made from pork salted and then cured by storing it in earthen jars for several weeks. When it’s finally taken out, it stinks and is crawling with maggots — enough to turn the stomachs of foreigners and Filipinos alike.
If these picks haven’t turned your stomach yet, you’ve got an exciting food trip ahead of you.
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