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Exotic Filipino Food – 10 Bizarre Filipino Dishes for the Adventurous Eater

Are you an adventurous eater? If you’re travelling to the Philippines, here are some of the most bizarre and exotic Filipino food you can try!

Exotic Filipino food become popular as part of the street food in the Philippines, where you can find such street eats like chicken intestines and grilled blood cubes.

In the Philippines, people don’t like wasting food or anything that can be potentially food, especially since poverty is quite rampant in the country.

Filipino Street Food in the Philippines
Photographer / Credit: Tourism Promotions Board

These bizarre dishes often come about with using whatever is available in the surroundings or whatever is left in an animal.

And these dishes actually end up being more sustainable and ethical than chicken, pork, or beef.

As a Travelling Foodie, I love exploring the destination through food, and sometimes the best way to learn about the destination’s culture and history is with some of its most exotic delicacies.

I’ve had bear heart, cod sperm, haggis, lamb brain, grasshoppers and agave worms to name some (plus some exotic Filipino dishes covered here).

Agave Worms at Puerto Vallarta Festival Gourmet International Grand Gourmet Village
Agave Worms

If it’s something unique and something locals would eat in the destination, I’m always curious to try.

Not everyone is game to try anything weird and familiar, of course! But there are people who are adventurous and daring to try unique dishes.

With culinary tourism, food shows and social media, it became easier for people to learn and appreciate more bizarre and unusual food items in a destination.

Philippines: Exotic Food Guide on Travelling Foodie

List of Exotic Filipino Foods To Try in the Philippines

Beyond the delicious traditional Filipino foods like adobo, lechon and lumpia lies some of the most bizarre, popular and exotic Filipino foods to try in the Philippines.

From entrails to bugs, here’s an exotic Filipino food list for the adventurous foodie!

Abuos

Most people see ants as these pesky little insects that ruin your dining experience especially when having a picnic.

But in Ilocos, ants are a delicacy. Abuos are ant eggs, usually harvested from the Northern Luzon mountains.

These eggs, or soft white larvarae of hantik (also known as red ants or weaver ants) look like legumes.

Abuos Close-up Ant Eggs
Photographer / Credit: Jacob Maentz

This exotic Ilocano dish is typically sauteed with garlic or made into an adobo. But if you’re daring enough, you can eat it raw too.

Abuos has high protein content and is supposedly an aphrodisiac.

Abuos Ant Eggs in the Philippines
Photographer / Credit: Jacob Maentz

Balut

The most popular exotic food from the Philippines, Balut is an embryo that has been boiled and eaten directly from its shell after being nurtured for 14-21 days.

This bizarre dish that’s been featured in Fear Factor is usually made using duck eggs, specifically local or Pateros duck eggs, but if those aren’t available, it can also be made with chicken eggs

Balut is undoubtedly at the top of the Philippine cuisine list when it comes to daring Filipino street meals. You’ll even see balut vendors roaming the crazy Filipino traffic to sell to cars at a standstill.

Exotic Duck Embryo Filipino Food
Photographer / Credit: Justin Ventura

When you open the egg, it’s not like the usually egg you’re used to. You will see the duck with its beak and hair.

Honestly, I used to eat balut when I was growing up in Manila, but now, as an adult, I cannot get myself to eat them anymore.

Balut at The Alley By Vikings in Manila, Philippines
Duck Embryo

Betute

Betute, or Betute Tugak, is a Pampanga specialty that consists of deep-fried rice field frogs stuffed with minced pork.

The natives catch a frog, stuff it with pork or seasoned ground meat, then deep-fry it.

Rice field frogs that devour small insects are the frogs used as a primary ingredient in this exotic Filipino food.

Known as tugak in Kapampangan, the frogs used for betute are farm-grown frogs.

These are significantly larger than the typical frogs (like the common bullfrog) offered for food at the farthest wet markets.

For the adventurous soul in you, this bizarre food is a must-try and a . This dish is indeed exotic and special to Filipino culture.

Dinuguan

Pork dinuguan is a kind of stew that is specific to the Philippines. What makes this an exotic stew is pork blood is used as the major component.

Dinuguan is a savory Filipino stew made with pork raw meat (commonly kidneys, lungs, intestines, heart, ears, and snout) and/or meat, cooked in thick, spicy dark gravy made with pig blood, garlic, chili, and vinegar.

Dinuguan Exotic Filipino Food
Photographer / Credit: Marc Go

Bicolanos love using gata (or coconut milk) on their dishes like Laing.

In Bicol, they have a regional version that uses gata called Dinuguan Gata to add more creaminess and some sweetness.

Dinuguan Gata - Pork Blood Soup
Photographer / Credit: Tourism Promotions Board

Isaw

Isaw is a famous Filipino street food prepared made by grilling pig or chicken intestines. It’s a specific type of inihaw.

The intestines are cleansed, flipped inside out, and cleansed again multiple times, after which they are sometimes boiled, then grilled, or roasted on sticks right away.

Traditionally, this exotic Filipino food is dunked in vinegar or sukang pinakurat (vinegar with onions, peppers, and other spices). Vendors typically sell them on the streets in the afternoons.

Isaw Exotic Filipino Street Food
Photographer / Credit: Tourism Promotions Board

Also Read: Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Manila, Philippines

Kamaro

Kamaro is a bizarre dish made from Philippines’ insects. These are mole crickets that are made into special Filipino delicacies by Filipino cooks.

In this exotic Filipino food, the foot and wings of the crickets are washed and cooked in garlic broth before being pan-fried with tomatoes and onions in vegetable oil.

This meal has a distinct flavor that is definitely not for everyone.

Camaro Mole Crickets in the Philippines
Photographer / Credit: Justin Ventura

Kinilaw

Referred to as Philippines ceviche, Kinilaw refers to a collection of Filipino foods that are similar to crudo in Italy and ceviche in Peru.

This exotic Filipino food is made with raw meat or seafood (commonly fish) and vinaigrette made with vinegar, ginger, onion, garlic, chili, and pepper.

Kinilaw is often mistaken with Kilawin (or used interchangeably) which uses cooked meat or seafood (by boiling or grilling) instead of raw.

Unlike the Latin American snack ceviche or seviche where the seafood is marinated in citrus liquids, kinilaw is marinated in vinegar.

Because the acid changes the protein structure, both of these steps will cook the seafood.

To add to the distinction, Filipinos usually eat kinilaw as a side dish rather than a starter during beer-drinking gatherings.

Kinilaw Filipino Food
Photographer / Credit: Tourism Promotions Board

Salagubang

Known as June Bug or May Beetle, Salagubang is an exotic Filipino dish that is said to be the favorite of the people from Nueva Ecija since these insects thrive there.

It has tastes like Kamaru, and even has the same texture: crunchy exterior yet gooey and meaty when you bit into it.

This bizarre Filipino delicacy is best eaten with hard liquor or beer, like in a pulutan or as an appetizer.

Since Adobo is such a popular dish, a known way of eating Salagubang is adobo style.

Tamilok

This bizarre Filipino food looks like a worm but it’s really an oyster.

A Filipino delicacy, Tamilok (also called as woodworm) is a saltwater clam that bores holes into decaying wood.

I’ve had the chance to try this in my trip to Palawan, and it was definitely interesting with a worm texture. But once was enough for me.

Tamilok Woodworms in the Philippines
Photographer / Credit: Eric Beltran

Uok

If Salagubang (Beetle) is already a delicacy, it’s not surprising that Uok is also one.

This beetle larvae lives in dead coconut logs and is a popular street food in the Rizal province.

Similar to Salagubang, Adobong Uok is a popular way of enjoying this exotic Filipino food too. In fact, it was featured in the show, Bizarre Food with Andrew Zimmerman.

Apparently, natives shared that it has an enjoyable texture and taste once you overcome the fact that you’re eating a beetle larvae.

Plus, Uok is a good source of protein.


Hope this list of exotic Filipino dishes gives you an idea on some of the unique and bizarre things you can eat when you travel to the Philippines.

Which of these bizarre Filipino food are you willing to try?


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