Beyond balut (boiled duck embryo), the Philippines’ rich fauna yield a wide variety of what is usually considered exotic food. Frogs, grasshoppers, eel, beetles—these are just some of the more adventurous ingredients some Filipinos like to work with. But for them, these are less of a delicacy, more of a regular part of the menu. Want a dose of some Philippine exoticism? Check out what some Pinoys like to cook up in their audacious kitchen!Ilocos
Pritong tipaklong (grasshopper). In the fable, the grasshopper may have sung and played and lived a carefree life. But in real life, grasshoppers are the boon of farmers because these insects eat crops. Fried grasshoppers are crunchy and said to taste like shrimp! They are said to be a good source of protein.
Inihaw na salagubang (beetle). Beetles cooked until crispy are usually eaten as pulutan, with the wings and legs usually removed. Inihaw na salagubang is crunchy; eating it feels like eating a handful of tiny shrimp with virtually no meat.
Adobong palaka (frog). The French enjoy frog’s legs, so why can’t we? The consensus is that frogs taste just like chicken—and so, adobo is a logical way to prepare it. Don’t worry, they actually don’t serve this dish as whole frogs in adobo sauce. After all, do people serve adobong manok with the entire chicken sitting in adobo sauce?
Adobong uok (beetle larvae). In the spirit of frugal living, many Filipinos hate to waste anything. Dinuguan, for one, was invented because someone didn’t want to waste some pig’s blood and innards. And so, in some parts of the country, beetle larvae isn’t just something to get rid of. It’s something to cook! After all, beetle larvae cooked as adobo is flavorful. (And rich in protein as well!)[Also check out the different ways Dinuguan is prepared all over the Philippines.]
Pagi in spicy sauce (Stingray). Stingray meat has a consistency similar to that of fish. It’s flaky but can be tough if undercooked. Be careful of the large amount of hard bones, though. This is best eaten with your fingers so you can really sift through the meat and pluck out the bones.Sizzling palos (eel). Locally known as palos, it is bony, like snake meat, but very delicious. A fillet of eel is a great source of omega-3 acids, vitamin A, and phosphorous, among others.
Adobong pato (duck). Although not entirely uncommon, duck is still largely considered exotic in this part of the world. What better way to prepare it than as a dish that is beloved by Filipinos?
[Also check out the recipe for another yummy adobo version: Adobo salad.]
Pindang tapa. The beast of burden, the carabao, has a slightly tougher but also very lean meat. It’s almost like goat meat, but a little bit tougher. So if you’re planning to cook this dish, make sure you boil it longer than you think you should.
Fried hito (catfish). Not found on most restaurant menus, catfish are nonetheless delicious when fried to a crisp and dipped in vinegar.
Fried Batute (stuffed frog). For this dish, the frogs are stuffed with ground pork, onion, garlic, tomatoes and spices. It tastes better than it sounds. And it looks more appetizing in real life, outside your imagination.
Camaru (cricket). Don’t think of Jiminy. These crickets are deep fried then sauteéd in tomatoes, garlic, and onions. The dish is good as pulutan. Eating it with rice might mask the natural flavor of the Camaru.
[Also check out how to cook Fried tilapia with Salsa Fresca.]Nueva Ecija
Adobong Salagubang. Beetles are commonly available in the markets of Nueva Ecija. Just like pork innards are in Manila’s wet markets. Adobong salagubang is such a popular dish in Nueva Ecija that the dish is eaten as a main meal with steamed rice.