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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Five Must Try Filipino Street Foods

Philippines' Street Food

Travelers looking for authentic Filipino food in the Philippines need not go to a restaurant; they can easily find it in the streets sold in kiosks or food carts. For just $2 or even less, you can already feast on several delightful treats with your friends.

The streets in the Philippines may not be a sanitary and relaxing place to eat, but it is where you can find delectable Filipino food. The vendors don’t offer you chairs or seats and often you stand elbow to elbow with other customers while taking your turns to get your order. Foreigners who wish to understand or adapt the Filipino culture can start by joining the hungry mob in the streets.


  1. Balut is a boiled fertilized duck egg, which is a very popular street snack in the Philippines. It is high in protein and believed to be aphrodisiac. Foreigners may look at it with disgust, but it is an all-time local favorite. What makes it notorious and terrifying is the nearly formed embryo—features like the beak, feathered wings, and the legs are almost evident.
It is typically eaten by cracking a small hole first, sprinkling a little salt, and sucking the fluid out. Then, you eat the chick and the yolk. The partially formed chick adds a crunchy texture to it. The egg white is typically hard and bland; some would just skip it. Others love to dip it in vinegar and enjoy munching it.

Though it is usually served as a snack or appetizer, but because Filipinos love it so much some are using it as ingredient for their recipes like adobo and soup.

Locals would offer it as a rite-of-passage gastronomy to their foreign guests. Some may gag, but others would realize that it is truly delicious.

For just 15 to 20 pesos (more or less 46 US cents), you get to enjoy this protein-rich Filipino treat.


  1. Isaw is chicken intestines washed thoroughly inside and out before it is cooked. Vendors typically boiled, skewered and barbecued the isaw and serve it with Filipino vinegar or with a special sweet and spicy black sauce. Other preparation of isaw includes dipping it in a batter and deep-frying. It is then skewered and served with vinegar.
The risk of eating isaw is the possibility of digesting fecal residue. Nevertheless, it is a Filipino favorite. Many locals—students and working class alike—would stop in a nearby stall or cart to have this tasty snack before going home.

You can buy isaw for just two to three pesos (7 US cents).

Kwek Kwek or Tokneneng

  1. Kwek kwek or tokneneng is another popular street food. It is a hard-boiled quail egg, dip in an orangey batter, and deep-fried. It is sometimes skewered or served in plastic cups. Locals would eat it with spicy vinegar, black sweet gravy, sweet and sour pinkish sauce, or combination. For just 10 pesos (23 US cents) per stick, you can enjoy this delightful dish.

Fish Balls

  1. Fish balls are popular in many Asian countries including in China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. In the Philippines, you can see many fish ball vendors in any corner of the street.
Fish balls are made from pulverized fish meat, either cuttlefish or pollock. It is usually flat in shape and, sometimes, yellowish in color. It is often served in bamboo skewers or have it in plastic cups. Fish balls go well with variety of sauces, depending on your preference—spicy vinegar, sweet gravy, and sweet and sour sauce.

Other edible balls you’ll find in the streets include chicken balls, squid balls, and kikiam.


  1. Kakanin is actually a collective term used for a variety of rice recipes in the Philippines. Many of these kakanin are very colorful and tempting. A serving or a pack usually cost around 10 to 25 pesos (23 to 57 US cents). Popular kakanin that you can easily buy in the streets includes puto, suman, and bibingka.
Puto is made with glutinous rice, coconut milk or evaporated milk and sugar. It is typically white in color and topped with cheese. You can also find puto with variety of colors and in bite-sizes.

Suman is a kakanin made of glutinous rice wrapped in leaves either banana or coconut leaves. It is served with sugar or grated coconut. It is a perfect snack to go with a hot cocoa drink or coffee.

Bibingka is a rice cake made either with glutinous rice or cassava flour, mixed with brown sugar, coconut milk, and margarine.

When you are in the Philippines, walking in the streets can be a gastronomical trip. Some street food like balut may look intimidating at first, but successfully passing the first-time jitters may overthrow the notion that it is disgusting. Prepare your taste buds for a street adventure!

-Article and images by Caryl Joan Estrosas

Filipino Food

Hungry for some Filipino street food but no money to go to Manila or no Pinoy eateries nearby?  At least some of these tasty treats can be prepared at home.  Perhaps one of the easiest of these foods to make is the last, bibingka, the tasty coconut and rice dessert (and of course, if you have ducks, you can always make your own balat, too).  If you want more tasty Filipino recipes, check out A Taste of the Philippines: Classic Filipino Recipes Made Easy. 


  • 2 1/2 lbs. (5 1/2 c.) mochi rice
  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen, coconut milk, thawed
  • 1 (1 lb.) pkg. dark brown sugar
  • 1 can condensed milk
Rinse rice and cook in rice cooker. In a saucepan, combine coconut milk and 1 1/4 cups of the brown sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Preheat electric oven to 350 degrees. Put cooked rice into a large bowl. Stir remainder and remaining brown sugar evenly into the hot rice. Put into pan. Pour condensed milk on top and spread. Bake for 15 minutes, cut into small pieces.  That is it!



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