by Likha on 15/02/09 at 1:44 am
These delicacies have received a lot of flak from those unfamiliar to them but they remain in my list of favorites especially on cold rainy days.
I have been a vegetarian for some time but I find it difficult to pass up an opportunity to have a small serving of these much-maligned yet delectable Filipino delicacies. Get to know more about them and who knows, you may soon end up being a member of its legions of Filipino fans.
Balut is an aborted duck fetus. It is very different from the ordinary egg with yolk and all. This one is a healthy, fertilized duck embryo that is almost ready to be hatched. In fact, it got its ill reputation from its readily recognizable duck embryo with bulging eyes, pink little limbs, gray feathers and beak. It is often served with a dash of salt and beer. When I was young, I ate this with my favorite cola drink in a totally dark room lest I come face-to-face with the grossly pathetic duck creature. Balut is an aphrodisiac. Elders recommend it to strengthen the knees especially if one is to engage in the sexual act.
Green Mangoes and Bagoong
Bagoong or shrimp paste is made from fermented ground shrimp. Other varieties are made from fermented fish. It has to be cooked well prior to consumption by stir frying it with garlic and onions. In the Filipino cuisine, bagoong is used as an alternative to salt, soy sauce or monosodium glutamate to enhance food flavor. It is best used as a condiment or dipping sauce for green mangoes. To those unfamiliar with this condiment, its notoriously pungent odor could be extremely repulsive. Filipinos have gotten complaints from neighbors in Western countries for cooking bagoong. To me, however, the aroma of freshly cooked bagoong is a treat to my nostrils especially if it comes with green mangoes.
Tuyo or Dried Salted Fish
Tuyo is salted fish that has been dried under the sun. It may be stored for sometime since it has been preserved by the salting and drying process. Different variants of tuyo can be made from different kinds of fish. Tuyo is fried with moderate amount of cooking oil. To most Filipinos, this is a classic breakfast viand together with fried rice, eggs and tomatoes. Vinegar with garlic and a little chili pepper is the ideal dipping sauce for tuyo. This Filipino delicacy is known to be a poor man’s dish as it is quite cheap and may be readily purchased from any small variety store nearby. The reality is, tuyo has legions of fans from all walks of life despite its nasty odor. I’m a certified tuyo lover and I’m right there heading the pack!
Dinuguan is also known as pork blood stew. It is made from pork meat simmered in a rich, spicy gravy of pig blood, garlic, chili and vinegar. Dinuguan derives it name from the Filipino word “dugo” meaning blood. It is best served with white rice or Filipino rice cake called puto. Westerners are usually alarmed by this dish because of its morbid origin though some think it is rather similar to the European-style blood sausage or British black pudding in a saucy stew form. The Westernized euphemism, “chocolate meat” is based on its recognizable thick and dark appearance. This is a pleasant substitute to what has been jokingly referred to by Filipinos as the “menstruation dish.”
Durian is a tropical fruit found in Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, it abundantly grows in Davao City. It is similar to jack fruit, only more velvety. Its hard crust keeps the edible flesh intact inside. As in other Filipino delicacies, durian’s smeared reputation originates from its offensive odor; strong and penetrating even when the husk is intact. In fact, the odor has caused its banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in Southeast Asia. To me, however, the aroma is like aged wine, something that keeps you craving for more and intoxicates you for life. Those who judge and throw off this fruit unfairly miss out on one of the best things nature has to offer.
“Do not judge a book by its cover,” so goes the popular saying. Many may find these delicacies extremely peculiar but it takes one to try them to appreciate them. When in the Philippines, eat as the Filipinos eat. You’ve never really been in the country until you’ve had a taste of these treats.