In the Philippines, you may find yourself with the jungle on the plate: Monitor lizard diced and sautéed, snake as snack, monkeys for a feast, and ant eggs as evening munchies. Preeti Verma Lal shares five must-eats for the intrepid traveller.
If you thought chocolate and meat was evil pairing, you haven’t tried chocolate meat in the Philippines. “Get a litre of pig blood for 25 pesos (roughly Rs 37). Saute, onion, garlic, chilli. Simmer pig’s blood for 20 minutes and add vinegar. Have it with rice. Or, add pork offal in the blood and turn into dinuguan,” says Chef Alfeo Lumabi Jr, Chef de Partie, Belmont Hotel, Manila. Funnily, there is no chocolate in the dinuguan. The name comes from the colour of the cooked blood.
Chef Cris Rasgonio of Playa Tropical Resort, Ilocos Morte, sweats over the northern-island speciality for hours. Bagnet is pig belly boiled with garlic, salt/pepper, cooked in the oven for two hours and then deep fried. It is crispy from the outside and succulent inside.
Crocodile meat is antidote for heart problems—it lowers your cholesterol and raises the libido. Interestingly, the meat is also an aphrodisiac. The best way to eat it is by turning it into a sisig: Boil, grill, sauté the meat; drizzle sauce and serve with calamansi (local lime) and chillies.
Where to Eat: The best crocodile sisig is available in the Palawan region. In Manila, The Urban Café is a good option.
Boiled egg? Yes, but with a twist. A feather and a head, actually. The Philippines’ commonest street food is a developing 17-day duck/hen embryo boiled, cracked open, the juices slurped and the embryo wolfed with a splash of vinegar and dash of salt.
Where to Eat: Look for in it street carts in Manila. A few restaurants including Crisostomo and Ardi’s Bar & Dining (148 Jupiter Street, Makati; +63-2/899-4181) sell fried or sizzled balut.
It is the coolest one. A serving of milk topped with ice cream, finely shaved ice and dollops of leche flan, gulaman, ube, banana, kaong, beans, and garbanzos.