Extreme Cuisine: Palawan’s Tamilok

palawan2Last year I had a wonderful time diving in Coron.  This year I find myself back in Palawan to explore Puerto Princessa.  I realize that three days is not enough to fully experience Palawan. So I have to come back again and next on my check list are beautiful beaches of El Nido.palawan1

In Puerto Princessa  tourism is organized and the city is clean. The locals are environmentally conscious and are very keen on saving the forests, seas, and even practice recycling. In fact there is a P200 fine for littering. I was also surprised to see lamp posts with solar panels.  They are also very active in mangrove and tree planting.

palawan3I asked our guide about the native dishes. Palawan food is all about the bounty of the sea. I tried to get a reservation at Kalui and Badjao Seafood Restaurant, unfortunately a reservation is needed as they were fully booked from tours. I was already feeling fustrated until our guide mentioned I must try “tamilok”.

One thing that intrigued me was that this exotic delicacy is a wood worm that lives in the mangroves. Biologically it is not a worm but classified as a mollusk. The long slimy creatures are cleaned and served raw. It is dipped in vinegar before eating. So after our city tour, my bus-mates and now my new found friends went to Kinabuch restaurant to try  tamilok. Apparently it is a specialty at Kinabuchs Grill and Bar, so things turned out for the best.  Like a dare, we took turns trying it and washed it down with San Migule beer. They looked scary but tasted like long super slimy oysters!

In an urban legend the name tamilok comes from two foreigners who were with the Batak tribe.  The tribesmen were about to eat the “u-od” which means worms in Filipino, and the westerner in astonishment upon seeing the dish called on to his companion “Look! Tommy look!”. The tribesmen thought the white men were the experts  who knew the dish.  So “Look! Tommy look!” became “tamilok” and  thus became the name of the dish. What a funny story! 🙂

Day two was the Underground River tour and day three was our Honday Bay tour. For both tours lunch was served by the beach. They consisted of grilled pork and chicken, salted eggs and tomatoes, cucumbers in vinegar, grilled fish and prawns. And coconut juice served in their husks. At Pandan island along Honday bay we had a real treat!  The fishermen caught lobsters and they were being sold at 500 pesos a kilo (that’s around US$10 or 7 Euros!!! for a kilo for lobsters!!)  and so we bought them and had them for lunch.

Please vote for the Puerto Princessa Underground River. It is now a finalist for the New 7 Wonders .

Microtel Palawan