Posts Tagged ‘raquel bagnol exotic foods’

Tikod amo: A bite of a monkey’s heel

IMG_0123IT’S usually monkeys who bite people, but if you go to Surigao del Sur, you have a chance to bite a monkey—and right on its heel too.

However is not what you think. Visit Erve’s Fastfood in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and try a rare and exotic dish that has drawn thousands of visitors from different parts of the world to try it.

It was the first day of  our three-day trip to the province of Surigao del Sur and Erve’s Fastfood was our first stop for a very late breakfast.

As expected, a rich seafood feast was set for us on a long table. When we say seafood and you are in Surigao del Sur, think of the biggest crabs, lobsters, prawns, shrimps, slipper crabs, fish, seaweeds and an abundance of the rich marine treasures that only Surigao del Sur can dish out, but there was more to the feast.

At another table were two pairs of rough and spiny shells that Erve’s Fastfood owner Ivy Doguiles have set up, propped with a piece of glass to hold the covering shells in place. It was called Tikod amo, the local dialect term which literally means monkey’s heel is an edible rock oyster found in the deep waters of LianggaBay in Barobo Surigao del Sur. She said it is named Tikud amo because it closely resembles the ankle of an ape.

You cannot see Tikod amo displayed at the shelves or at the fastfood’s daily menu because they are not that easy to get. Doguiles said they are only served to a lucky few people and divers oftentimes go up empty handed because of the dwindling supply of Tikod amo.IMG_0133

Doguiles said it is also believed to be an aphrodisiac, which made the product all the more in demand.

I did not try the raw meat of the Tikod amo she prepared plain for us, but I nibbled on a small piece of the adobo version just to try..

To collect a kilo of Tikod amo meat, she said a diver has to dive at least more than five times and the task involves prying open the shell with a knife, collecting the meat inside and resurfacing before his lungs burst.

Doguiles said her grandfather Moises owned the fastfood which she inherited from her parents, and her grandpa had been preparing Tikod amo using their family recipe even before Tikud amo became popular, and very expensive, surpassing the price of all the other oyster meat available in the market.

Surigao del Sur is known as the “Shangri-La by the Pacific” for its famous attractions including the Britania Islands, Tinuy-an Falls, the ever famous Enchanted River, pristine beaches, caves, waterfalls, and other attractions both manmade and natural but don’t miss the chance to bite a monkey’s heel at Erve’s Fastfood. It might be your only chance before an ape bites you.


Balut: A taste of the exotic

BEFORE you tap its pointy shell and make a small crack to sip the broth, make sure you have a pinch of salt and spicy vinegar before you make the “final attack.”

DSC_8936 - Copy I’m talking about the “balut,” a famous delicacy in the Philippines  that would send a lot of people from other parts of the world scurrying away in disgust.

Balut, which is sold in streets in the Philippines, is fertilized duck egg cooked and served in its shell.

I’ve tried asking several people here, non-Filipinos, if they’ve tried eating balut and I’ve received various violent reactions ranging from “yuck” and “ewww” with matching shuddering and absolute distaste on their faces.

Andres Zimmern of the Travel Channel featured balut on his show “Bizarre Foods,” so did Anthony Bourdain on “No Reservations.”

Cracking a balut and eating it in front of people who haven’t tried it is in itself something of an experience.

After not seeing any balut for over three years, I learned that there’s a store that sells it on Saipan — the grocery beside Elegance Restaurant in Garapan.

It costs $1.50 each. I bought three and took it home one time. As it came from the cooler, I had to heat it for a few minutes before finally laying them on the table and staring at them as though I’d forgotten how to eat balut.balut

Picking up one, I tapped the pointy tip of the egg’s shell and made an opening large enough to pinch the sac covering the top. I then poured a generous amount of salt and spicy vinegar before tipping it up for the broth to trickle into my mouth. After the broth was drained, I cracked the shell slowly, pouring more salt and vinegar as I spooned the yolk and took dainty bites. (Yes, spooned. I wouldn’t eat it otherwise)

When I got down to the last bit of yolk, I stopped and dropped the balut. Before me was the duck fetus — complete with head, eyes, bill, little wings, and some feathers. I’ve never learned to eat the fetus, and I think I never will.

Some people eat the duck fetus in two or even one bite but a lot of them will not look at  it— don’t look at that little slippery guy with feathers because it will haunt you for the rest of your life.

When you can finally focus on the taste and forget the terror, eating balut will no longer be that daunting. Here’s a tip from balut lovers — don’t look at it.

Balut is also believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered to be a high-protein snack. Try it if you haven’t yet.

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