The Filipino cuisine is so diverse. We are proud of our classics and street foods. However, we also have an exhaustive list of exotic Filipino foods.
There are certain exotic foods that I don’t eat but would offer my kids to sample their taste. I don’t expect my daughters to like them. I just want them to appreciate all things Filipino. After all, these food items are a part of our being Filipino.
I don’t want them to grow up afraid to try new things as well. I hope that I’m nurturing the adventurous spirit just right.
Exotic Filipino foods my husband and I let our children eat
Balut (Boiled duck embryo)
Balut is a protein-rich delicacy sold in the neighborhoods at night, shouting ‘Balut! Balut!’ Some people would buy them as midnight snacks or pulutan. I think balut is the OG Pinoy pulutan, or food that is typically served with an ice-cold beer or other alcoholic drinks.
Balut is by far the most exotic food Filipinos eat. Well, at least for me. I would not say no to eating balut anytime. Papa Jun and I enjoyed eating it together, especially with salt and spicy vinegar. It was also his idea to let Sasha and Adele eat balut. He bought, prepared everything, and provided an impromptu discussion of what balut is. 🤣
To my surprise, Sasha loved the duckling. I don’t—I only eat the yolk part of balut. Adele is so-so; she’s okay with everything. Or must I be shocked—they are both adventurous eaters. That, or we’re raising monsters. 🤣🤣
Helmet (chicken head)
We Filipinos eat pretty every consumable part of the chicken. I believe that helmet or the chicken head is a testament to our ingenuity.
Not to mention how we hate wasting food. So instead of throwing this part away, we skewer, grill, and eat them despite not having much to eat from them.
Adidas (chicken feet)
I have no idea who first called chicken feet adidas. Yup, after the well-known shoe brand. Clever huh?
I know some people who don’t like the texture of chicken feet—kind of gelatinous. But I love how this lends uniqueness to adidas. Others don’t like how it is a ‘struggle’ to eat them, with all the small bones to get rid of while eating.
Regardless of how it is cooked, chicken feet can be very tasty. Adele loves chicken feet. Two days ago, she requested her lolo to buy chicken feet.
Grandfater; a polite title or form of address for an elderly man
Adidas is also a popular dish in China and other Asian countries.
Isaw (chicken intestine)
Isaw is a classic. And I think isaw is every Filipino child’s first foray into exotic food because it has a subtle taste, especially when dipped in thick sweet sauce.
Barbecue stands in the Philippines usually have two dips: spiced vinegar and sweet sauce. The latter is for kids and adults who don’t like spicy dips.
Betamax (blood cubes)
I have no idea why this is called betamax. Perhaps because of how it looks. It’s solidified chicken blood, resembling the look of the videotape.
Betamax is so tasty regardless of your preferred sauce. I like vinegar for my betamax. 🤘🤘🤘
Dinuguan (blood stew)
I’m not aware that dinuguan is actually an exotic food. Our family eats them on a regular, though we rarely cook them. How? When the day gets too busy to cook anything for lunch or dinner or when we don’t have anything to cook, we would just buy our ulam (viand) from the nearby carinderia.
And dinuguan is a carinderia staple.
Other exotic Filipino dishes that I want them to try
Chicharon bulaklak (Deep-fried pig intestine chitterling)
I love chicharon (pork crackling)! I rarely eat chicharon bulaklak, and I don’t crave it as well. But if served, I will definitely have it.
Chicharon bulaklak is best eaten with spicy vinegar.
It is served as an appetizer in some areas. However, it is more known as pulutan.
Camaro (Field or mole cricket)
Camaro or kamaru is popular in Pampanga. Common recipes are adobong camaro, which is cooked in salt, soy sauce, and vinegar, and fried camaro. I’ve tasted it at Everybody’s Café during one of our brand exposures. It has a unique meat-like taste with hints of herb-y and nutty flavors.
Betute tugak (Deep-fried stuffed frog)
Also from Pampanga, betute tugak is a crowd favorite. Indeed, frog tastes like chicken. You can’t tell the difference between the two. However, this one has sauteed ground pork stuffing.
My tatang would take home palakang bukid (rice field frogs) from Obando, Bulacan when I was so young. We would often cook it as tinolang palaka, a Filipino stew with green papaya, dahon ng sili (chili leaves), and fish sauce.
Father or a father figure
In case you’re wondering, it’s the less popular variation of chicken tinola.
Papaitan (Bitter stew)
Papaitan is made from beef or goat innards. Its bitter taste comes from bile that is carefully extracted from its sac. Papaitan is our Papa Jun’s favorite. I wonder how Sasha and Adele would react once they tasted papaitan.
I guess this shows our family’s adventurous side. It’s not for a culinary thrill, though, but loving your own.