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Philippines Exotic Foods - Palawan

Updated on April 15, 2012

Palawan, Philippines

Palawan, Philippines
Palawan, Philippines

Palawan's Culinary Must-Try

Palaweño cuisine is still an undiscovered frontier. Palawan is hands-down, one of the most fascinating provinces in the Philippines. With its pristine environment, friendly locals and a heritage site or two to its credit, the island is certainly a must-see place that every Filipino should visit at least once in his or her lifetime.

Fortunately, despite the distance of Palawan and its capital city, Puerto Princesa, the province is in fact a very tourist- friendly place with first-class hotels like The Legend Palawan setting the trends for the rest to follow. As expected, the hotel is again showing the way on how to best showcase the unique environment and culture of the island. This time, however, not only through the latter's unique attractions, but also through food.

Yes, Palaweño cuisine is, like the island itself, a still undiscovered frontier. Indeed, with an abundance of fresh marine and land-based ingredients at its disposal, it is only a matter of time before the island's cuisine becomes an attraction in itself. In fact, a cursory visit to Puerto Princesa's public market will yield a treasure trove of flavors and produce that impresses because of sheer profundity. Moreover, Palawan even has several culinary delights that are uniquely and profoundly its own.

Octopus Kinilaw
Octopus Kinilaw
Seaweed Salad
Seaweed Salad


For the sea urchin & kinilaw:

  • 1 pc. sea urchin
  • fresh fish fillet, cubed (marlin or tuna)
  • pineapple juice
  • vinegar ginger, grated

For the tender octopus:

  • octopus, sliced into bite-size pieces
  • garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste

For the seaweed salad:

  • lato (seaweed)
  • alugbati leaves
  • Vietnamese nuoc mam (fish sauce)

To prepare the sea urchin kinilaw:

Marinate the fish fillet in pineapple juice, vinegar and ginger. Set aside. Meanwhile carefully remove the meat of the sea urchin. Remove the needles of the sea urchin, crack the top and carefully remove the contents. Wash the shell of the sea urchin. This will serve as the container. Place back some of the sea urchin's meat inside the shell. Top with the fish kinilaw. Top anew with the remaining sea urchin meat.

To prepare the octopus:

Heat olive in a pan, Sauté the garlic. Add the octopus. Season with salt if needed. Note: The octopus should be cooked quickly. Prolonging the cooking process will result in a rubbery octopus.

To prepare the seaweed salad:

Mix the lato (seaweed) and alugbati. Drizzle with nuoc mam in recognition of Palawan's once sizable Vietnamese community.

To assemble:

Place some salt on a plate and place the sea urchin kinilaw on top of it. Place the octopus in a small ramekin and serve alongside it. Place an amount of salad on the side. Serve.

Spicy Shellfish
Spicy Shellfish


  • 1 k. sikat-sikat
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 knob thumb-size ginger, sliced into strips
  • 2 tbsps. patis
  • 4 cups rice water
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsps. cooking oil
  • sili leaves

Wash the sikat-sikat and drain. Saute the garlic until brown; set aside. Brown the ginger strips and the onions. Pour in the patis. Stir for 3 minutes and add the rice water. Cover and allow to boil. Add the sili leaves. Serve hot.

Shellfish In Coconut
Shellfish In Coconut


  • 1 k. sikat-sikat
  • 1 thumb-size knob of ginger, slice into strips
  • 2 cups coconut milk 1 cup coconut cream (first extract)
  • 1 tsp. salt water

Wash the snails. Place in a pot with water and cover; set aside. Get each snail and gently tap to break the narrow end of each snail. This will loosen the meat. Place the snails in a pot and pour in the coconut milk. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes over moderate heat. Add salt and ginger. Add the coconut cream Allow to simmer for 5 minutes more without stirring.

Lobster Boiled In Soda
Lobster Boiled In Soda


  • 6 pes. Lobster
  • 1 liter Sprite
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup calamansi

Wash the lobster. Place in a pot and pour in the Sprite. Allow the liquid to reduce before adding in the butter and the calamansi. Allow to reduce some more. Place the lobsters on a serving platter and pour the remaining sauce over it. You can also serve the remaining liquid separately as a dip.

Honda Bay
Honda Bay
El Nido
El Nido
Underground River Entrance
Underground River Entrance


Do as the Palaweños do and revel in the glory of Nature with a capital "N." The city of Puerto Princesa is as big as Davao and perhaps even bigger and with its size come sights that are best seen before the end of days. Two of the best bets? The St. Paul Subterranean River or Underground River (UR) as it is more commonly called; and Honda Bay. The latter is relatively nearer from the city while expect to devote a whole day for the former. Honda Bay offers facilities for diving and snorkeling (we recommend the Pambato Reef) and there are 1 6 islands to choose from. The UR, however, is something else and is best experienced than read-even in a magazine as full of. If you don't have the time to plan your "excursions" yourself, ask a professional to do it for you. Otherwise, proceed to Puerto Princesa's tourist information office for info on how to go about Palawan's numerous sights. Honda Bay offers unspoiled stands of mangroves, protected reefs and numerous islands for beachcombing. Try the sandy Luli island-short for "lulubog, liiitaw" depending on the tide.

Palaweño cuisine is yet to be fully understood considering the migrant nature of the population. Nonetheless, there are several culinary curiosities one can look out for in their public markets or in out-of-the way villages populated by friendly folks. Be forewarned though. Some delights have built-in "fear factor" attributes. Our suggestion? Be adventurous once in a while.

Tuba (Coconut Wine)
Tuba (Coconut Wine)
Shellfish Platter
Shellfish Platter

TAMILOK. Alas, our recent trip was not the season for harvesting this delicacy. The tamilok is commonly known as the woodworm found in mangrove stands. It is eaten raw-that is, if you can get past its features which make it look like one big ... well, you get our drift. Believe it or not, Palaweños actually cook it a la sinigang and adobo, aside from eating it au naturale dipped in vinaigrette. By the way, the tamilok is actually not a worm but a shell-devoid mollusk.

TUBA. This drink is something you don't find much anymore in Philippine villages. In Palawan, however, you can still find it in out of the way barrios of Puerto Princesa. This is a perishable drink and we advise that you partake of it immediately in the morning (it turns to vinegar in the afternoon). The tuba is actually very refreshing and sweetish when freshly collected. Imbibe along with native rice cakes and cassava sweets (try their version of the nilupak) the locals might offer and you'll have a unique breakfast.

SIKAT-SIKAT. This is a Palaweño favorite and can be found in the public market in abundance. It seems the locals can't seem to get enough of this delicacy despite the fact that you have to use a push pin or a pardible (safety pin) to get to the meat. The effort, however, will be rewarded with a smidgen of meat that's comparable in taste to beef.

CASHEW, CASHEW, CASHEW. One couldn't reiterate cashew's importance to the Palaweño economy. After all, Palawan has 36,000 hectares devoted to this fruit tree. Eat it and bring home as pasaiubong either fried or oven-roasted. However, we suggest that you buy it in the form of bandi or bande (spellings differ). The bandi is similar to the round peanut brittle of Batangas although in this instance, half roasted cashew nuts are used along with muscovado sugar. Great as a simple dessert treat!


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    • kerlynb profile image


      7 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      Wow, thanks for this hub. I'm a Filipino and have been to Palawan many times but I have to say I wasn't able to eat some of the dishes you mentioned here. They sure are exotic. Thanks for sharing. We can try to cook one of these dishes at home.

    • profile image

      philippine property for sale 

      7 years ago

      wow! I never had the chance to spend some time in such a place like this, now as what i've seen and heard about the place i really want to go there... Thanks for sharing this post... :D

    • monk3ybidzness profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Antartica


    • profile image

      Treathyl FOX 

      7 years ago

      I am a fellow HUBBER. But my articles are real estate related. I also have a site called Everyday Exotic Spices. I found your article here at and decided to list it as a Recommended Link to my site. FYI. Wishing you success!!


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