15 Weird And Exotic Foods In The Philippines To Try [Local Guide]

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The Philippines offer a culinary adventure where flavors and ingredients come together uniquely and unexpectedly. In addition to the traditional Filipino dishes, there are many exotic foods in the Philippines that might blow your mind.

What’s Special About Exotic Foods In the Philippines?

That said, these weird and exotic Filipino foods also excite taste buds and showcase the rich culinary heritage of this beautiful Southeast Asian nation at the same time. Some even consider these the true delicacies of the Philippines.

If you are from Asia, some of these dishes that Philippines is famous for might not seem as peculiar. However, if you are from other cultures where consuming insects and innards of animals is not as common, be prepared for some weird food in the Philippines.

From bizarre-tasting fruits to unusual delicacies, we delve into the world of fascinating flavors that await those willing to step outside their culinary comfort zone. Some of the weirdest ones are at the end, so we slowly ease you into it.

Smokey Street Exotic Foods In The Philippines

No other countries offer an array of street food that Asian countries like the Philippines can. Let’s see what we can find by roaming the streets of Manila.

Isaw (Grilled Chicken Intestine)

philippines-grilled-instestine

Isaw may sound unfamiliar, but it regularly captures the hearts of those who try this exotic food in the Philippines. These are grilled chicken or pork intestines, skewered and cooked over an open flame until they acquire smoky, savory, and slightly chewy textures that meld together.

Isaw transforms an often overlooked animal part into a beloved Filipino street food delicacy, showcasing the resourcefulness and ingenuity of Filipinos. It also demonstrates that hidden treasures can be found in unexpected places and that trying something new can lead to discoveries.

Adidas (Chicken Feet)

filipino-food-adidas

This exotic food in the Philippines has gained popularity in Filipino cuisine as a weird addicting snack or appetizer. The nickname “Adidas” originates from the three-striped resemblance of the chicken feet to the iconic sportswear brand.

Once cooked, Adidas offers a combination of textures alongside a savory taste – soft skin, gelatinous cartilage, and a small bone in the center. It’s often enjoyed by using the teeth to strip off the tender meat and cartilage from the bone, providing a satisfying and enjoyable dining experience.

In addition to their enjoyable taste and texture, chicken feet are appreciated for their collagen content, which some believe has skin-enhancing properties.

Helmet (Grilled Chicken Heads)

Helmet is a Philippine exotic food, particularly in urban areas where street vendors offer an array of grilled delights. The dish is enjoyed using hands, with diners breaking off the beak and nibbling on its tender meat – fun, right?

The chicken head, or “Helmet,” is seasoned with various spices and perfectly grilled over an open flame. It offers a combination of tender meat, crispy skin, and flavorful cartilage, resulting in a medley of textures that provide a truly immersive dining experience.

Tuslob Buwa (Pig’s Brain And Liver)

Tuslob Buwa is a Philippine exotic food that translates to “Dip in Bubbles” and originates from the bustling streets of Cebu City. It revolves around a simmering mixture of pig’s brain, liver, intestines, and other offal, cooked in a flavorful sauce made from soy sauce, garlic, onions, and spices.

The fun part is how it is enjoyed. Tuslob Buwa invites diners to participate in the cooking process actively. Typically, a large wok is placed on a stove at the center of the dining area; diners gather around and use bamboo skewers or bread to dip into the simmering mixture.

Dipping and swirling the skewers or bread in the bubbling sauce encourages conversation and connection. Such unusual yet communal street dining practices are part of the fun facts about Filipino culture.

Funky Snacks And Exotic Foods In The Philippines 

Set aside the usual potato chips and candy bar, here are some snacks with a twist that you can find in different parts of the Philippines.

Balut (Fertilized Duck Egg)

philippines-famous-balut

The most popular exotic food in the Philippines is Balut – a culinary curiosity that may appear unusual at first glance but holds a special place in Filipino gastronomy. This unique edible creation is made from a developing duck embryo, typically consumed when it reaches a specific incubation stage.

When you crack open the shell, you’ll find a partially formed duckling inside, complete with soft bones, feathers, and the beginnings of its beak. It is commonly enjoyed by savoring the broth surrounding the embryo, followed by biting into the developing duck’s tender yet slightly chewy flesh.

It is often sprinkled with salt, vinegar, or chili for an extra kick of flavor. Balut is regularly featured as one of the weird Filipino foods for really adventurous eaters.

Kamaru (Fried Mole Crickets)

exotic-food-kamaru

Kamaru is a lesser-known Philippine exotic food that surprises and captivates those who venture into the diverse realm of Filipino cuisine. These edible crickets are harvested, prepared, and transformed into a crunchy and flavorful treat.

While eating insects might be unconventional to some, camaru has become a beloved and sought-after snack for locals. The crickets – cleaned, seasoned, and fried until delightfully crispy – offers a flavorful combination of textures with a crunchy exterior and a slightly chewy interior.

In the Philippines, insects play a vital role in local culinary traditions, as they’ve proven sustainable and protein-rich food. 

Tamales (Filipino Sticky Rice with Chicken Or Pork Toppings)

Tamales are a culinary tradition deeply rooted in Latin American and Filipino cuisine known for a strange mixture of flavors, often prepared and shared during festive occasions and celebrations.

This exotic food in the Philippines is made with rice flour and coconut milk, topped with meat, salted egg, or vegetables. Not to be confused with the Mexican version, Filipino Tamales are often wrapped in banana leaves and filled with meats, peanuts, and various aromatics.

Taho (Filipino Sweet Tofu with Tapioca Pearls)

philippines-popular-taho

Taho is a beloved and iconic Philippine exotic food, a sweet and comforting treat that has become integral to Filipino food culture.

Often enjoyed during breakfast in Philippines, Taho consists of three main components: soft tofu, sago pearls (tapioca pearls), and a sweet syrup known as arnibal. The soft tofu, made from soybeans, is smooth and silky, while the sago pearls add a chewy texture. You can even enjoy this as a dessert in the Philippines.

Taho vendors, known as “magtataho,” roam the streets with a large aluminum container called a “taho cart” balanced on a pole across their shoulders. They call out “Tahooooo!” to attract customers, drawing attention to this beloved treat.

Uok (Stir-fried Coconut Beetle Larvae)

Uok, or coconut beetle larvae, is a pest that infests coconut trees in some areas of the Philippines. But instead of getting rid of them, Filipinos have found a way to make these pests into the culinary repertoire of specific communities.

The larvae are harvested from fallen or infested coconut logs and are prepared as a protein-rich ingredient. The larvae are boiled or sautéed with various seasonings and spices and are often enjoyed as a crunchy and flavorful snack.

Uok represents Filipino’s deep connection with the environment and their ability to turn unconventional ingredients into delicious and nutritious meals.

Must-try Entree Among Exotic Filipino Foods

Still there? Now let’s talk about the main Filipino dishes. Foreigners and even some locals consider these the super weird foods in the Philippines, so get ready.

Tamilok (Woodworm)

Tamilok is as peculiar as it sounds. This tongue-tickling Philippine exotic food is a curious kind of woodworm, specifically shipworms, harvested from the bark and trunks of mangrove trees.

These long, slender creatures dwell within the wood, feeding on decaying plant matter. While consuming wood-dwelling worms might seem unusual, tamilok is considered a delicacy in some areas of the Philippines.

The consumption of tamilok is believed to have originated from the coastal communities where mangroves thrive. The locals discovered that these woodworms, when properly prepared in a mixture of vinegar, calamansi, and spices, had a slightly acidic and salty flavor profile, reminiscent of oysters or clams – soft and gelatinous, providing a contrast to their initial appearance.

Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew)

filipino-food-dinuguan

Dinuguan, a distinctive and exotic food in the Philippines, intrigues and surprises the adventurous palate. It is also known as “chocolate meat” or “blood stew” because of its unexpected ingredient – pig’s blood.

Dinuguan’s savory blood stew is typically mixed with pork meat, pork belly, intestines, and offal. The blood gives the dish its distinct dark color, resembling chocolate. While it might sound unconventional, this weird Filipino food has been a beloved comfort snack for generations.

Some regions, such as the Ilocos province, have their own version called “dinardaraan,” which uses additional ingredients like ginger and chili for added complexity.

Betute Tugak (Deep-fried Stuffed Frog)

You might be surprised, but Betute Tugak has gained popularity as a regional specialty. The dish uses edible frogs, native to the region’s rice fields and marshlands, showcasing the culinary traditions of Pampanga, where the dish has become a symbol of local pride.

What sets Betute Tugak apart is the intricate process of stuffing the harvested frogs, which transforms them into delightful delicacies of the Philippines. After deboning them, the frogs are stuffed with ground pork or beef, spices, and aromatics, adding a unique twist.

Betute Tugak serves as a reminder that there are always new flavors and culinary adventures waiting to be discovered, even in the most unexpected places.

Wild Stews And Exotic Foods In The Philippines 

Last but not least, we have exotic Filipino foods that are warm and hearty. 

Soup No. 5 (Filipino Soup with Bull’s Testes)

Soup No. 5, also known as “Sopas ng Puso,” is a distinctive Filipino soup incorporating unconventional ingredients. While its exact composition may vary, the dish typically includes various beef parts and organs, including testicles, kidneys, spleen, tripe, and marrow bones.

Soup No. 5 has its reputation as an aphrodisiac. It is believed that consuming the various beef parts in this soup can enhance one’s vitality and romantic desires. However, note that the alleged aphrodisiac properties of Soup No. 5 are based on cultural beliefs and not scientific evidence.

Balbacua (Philippine Ox Tail Stew)

Originating from the islands of Mindanao, Balbacua is a Philippine exotic food made from various cuts of beef, typically the shank or oxtail, and cooked for several hours until the meat is tender and the flavors have melded together.

It is a hearty and flavorful slow-cooked stew known for its rich and aromatic broth, often infused with spices and herbs. The long cooking allows the collagen in the beef to break down to a tender and gelatinous texture.

Unknown to many, Balbacua has its roots in a traditional dish from the indigenous Lumad people of Mindanao. The Lumads would cook a similar dish using buffalo or carabao meat, simmered for a prolonged period to create a nourishing and hearty meal.

Papaitan (Filipino Bitter Soup)

Speaking of weird, Papaitan’s bitter and strong offal-like flavor is surprisingly tasty! It’s a Philippine exotic food that ignites the taste buds and showcases the adventurous spirit of Filipino cuisine.

Papaitan, which translates to “bitter,” is a soup that uses goat’s chopped meat and innards like liver and sometimes tripe. Adding bile gives the soup its characteristic bitter taste, balanced by the robustness of the other flavors.

Papaitan is best enjoyed with steamed rice, allowing the flavors to meld together and providing a satisfying and comforting dining experience.

Sampling Exotic Food In Philippines

These exotic and weird Filipino foods offer an opportunity to explore the diversity of global culinary traditions and challenge preconceived notions about food.

While some may consider these foods peculiar or unconventional, they hold cultural significance and reflect the resourcefulness of Filipino chefs who make the most of local ingredients, minimizing waste and transforming humble ingredients into culinary masterpieces.

As you enjoy the beautiful landmarks in the Philippines, don’t forget to also check out the exotic food scene!


PIN THESE EXOTIC FOODS IN THE PHILIPPINES!

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.

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