Filipino Street Food Adventure

When in Rome, do as the Romans do—an advice fitting for any travelers visiting a foreign land. So, when you are in the Philippines, testing your palate with the Filipino street foods, while not necessary, is commendable. Not only would it be fun to try the unique local dishes, but it is a great way to immerse and understand the Filipino culture.

It is easy to spot street food vendors; where there are churches, schools, recreational parks, or jeepney terminals, you will also see kiosks, makeshift stalls, or food carts. In suburbs, you will see vendors or hawkers with their bicycles or push carts almost everywhere. Street food is a way of life for many people in this part of the globe. It is a source of income for many Filipino families—some vendors testified that their street food businesses enable them to send their children to school. For students and working adults looking for inexpensive meal, street food satisfy them for just half-the price of a meal in any popular fast-food restaurant.

Instead of dining in a restaurant for an authentic Filipino dish, why not go out in the street and have a quick bite. There is nothing more authentic than those food in the streets—untouched with the modern culinary flair. You will not only get to enjoy the food, but you get to join the locals who are eating with much gusto. Let you save couple of dollars too. In fact, with just $2 USD you’ll get home stuffed. Sanitation can be a bit off though. However, if you are up to the challenge, then prepare your taste buds for a wonderful street food adventure.

Banana Cue

Deep-friend Saba (banana) that is coated in caramelized brown sugar and skewered in bamboo stick. It is best to eat it while hot.

more banana-q love
Banana Cue by supafly, on Flickr

Fish balls, squid balls and chicken balls

Some of the delicious deep-fried balls you can find in the streets. Fish balls are made of finely pulverized fish meats. It is usually flat in shape. Squid balls and chicken balls are some of its recent variation. Typically, the balls are eaten by dunking it into your preferred sauce: spicy vinegar, sweet and sour sauce, or sweet gravy.

Kikiam

A Filipino version of the Chinese quekiam; made of ground pork and vegetables wrapped in bean curd sheets. It is deep-fried to perfection and served with your choice of sauce.

siomai and kikiam
siomai and kikiam by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Kwek kwek and tokneneng

Hard-boiled eggs dipped in orangey batter and fried until crispy. Kwek kwek use quail eggs while Tokneneng use chicken eggs.

squid balls and tokneneng
squid balls and tokneneng by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Siomai

Steamed dumplings, originally a Chinese dim sum, made with pork, beef, or shrimp. For just 25 pesos (57 cents USD) or less, don’t expect it to taste like those in the Dim sum house or restaurant.

Taho

Soybean snack with sweet syrup and tapioca pearls.

Taho
Taho – Source: Wikipedia

Arroz caldo and goto

Rice porridge similar to Chinese congee with ginger and some herbs. Arroz caldo has chicken and egg while goto has beef tripe.

Filipino Arroz Caldo
Filipino Arroz Caldo on Wikipedia

Batchoy

Noodle soup with pork innards or chicken meat, pork cracklings and vegetables

Batchoy
Batchoy on Wikipedia

Chicharon

Filipino cracklings made from different parts of the chicken and pig, seasoned, and deep-fried. These include chicken skin (crispy chicken skin), chicharong baboy (cracklings from pork rind), chicharong bituka (crispy, deep-fried chicken and pork intestines), and chicharong bulaklak (cracklings from pork omentum).

Barbecue

Marinated chicken and pork skewered and grilled over hot charcoal. Other grilled food includes adidas (chicken feet), betamax (dried chicken or pork blood), helmet (chicken head), isaw (chicken intestines), and pwet ng manok (chicken ass)

Isaw
Isaw by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Halo-halo

A Filipino dessert made with a mixture of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and assorted ingredients like beans, macapuno, jackfruit, gulaman, tapioca pearls, sweet potato, corn, and nata de coco. It is then topped with leche flan or purple yam. Halo-halo in restaurants would typically include a scoop of icecream on it.

Calamares

Deep-fried breaded squid rings

Kakanin

This is a Filipino term for a variety of rice recipes. Some of the popular kakanin you will see in the streets are:

Puto: Rice cakes that comes in variety of colors, sometimes topped with cheese
Suman: Steamed glutinous rice, wrapped in banana or coconut leaves
Bibingka: Glutinous rice grilled in a clay pot
Palitaw: Sticky snack made from glutinous rice, served with sesame seeds and grated coconut
Sapin-sapin: Colorful, layered rice cake made from glutinous rice, topped with grated coconut or toasted coconut milk curd
Biko: Dark sweet glutinous rice cake
Maja blanca: Cocounut cake

kakanin variety
kakanin variety by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

Day-old Chicks

This is literally a one-day-old male chicks. They are deep-fried, served with spicy vinegar and eaten whole.

Balut

Saving the best for last is the balut. It is a hard-boiled three-week old duck egg, high in protein, and believed to be aphrodisiac. It is very notorious because of how it look, with its nearly-formed embryo. The proper way of eating balut is to suck the amniotic fluid first before peel it off to eat the chick and the yolk.

Balut
Balut by Caryl Joan Estrosas, on Flickr

There is no glamour eating street foods, but why seek for glamour when you want fun and adventure. Your palate may not be the same again once you have tasted the Filipino street foods. As double-dipping is very common especially for fish balls, a little piece of safety advice: request for a separate plastic cup instead for your choice of dip. Vendors usually keep a separate bottle for their sauces. Also, be watchful on how vendors prepare and cook their food.

Caryl Estrosas

Caryl is a freelancer, a blogger, amateur photographer, social media advocate, wide-eyed traveler, and food lover. It is her lifelong dream to travel and see the world one day. She writes about Web 2.0 technology, her country Philippines, domestic and Asian trips, and local Filipino food on Soliloquy. See more of her on Facebook.
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