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Fear Factor: Palawan’s Tamilok

Perhaps it was the rainy season that drove me crazily to do it, but I felt the revolting prospect was worth the dare. My host brought me to Kinabuch Bar & Grill, a popular restaurant providing food, music and entertainment in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Instagramming the Tamilok  © Jojie Alcantara

Eating the Tamilok for my Instagram?

Among its most sought after delicacies are the crocodile sisig and the Tamilok for pulutan with beer.

Tamilok is the local name for this shipworm — or according to Wiki, a group of saltwater clams with long, soft, naked bodies. These are marine bivalve molluscs in the family Teredinidae, hence the common name of Teredo worms, or to be more specific in moniker, the “termites of the sea”.  They are notorious for boring into and eventually destroying wood that is immersed in sea water, including wooden piers, and ships, drilling passages by means of a pair of very small shells borne at one end, with which they strongly nibble their way through. They are also found in rotting wood, and mangrove areas.

Wikipedia illustration of the shipworm, or teredo navalis (Tamilok)

Wikipedia illustration of the shipworm, or teredo navalis (Tamilok)

Not a very delectable sight to behold, does it. Especially when you know it has a head and a tail. Even if it’s not moving at all.

Kinilaw na Tamilok or Ceviche © Jojie Alcantara

Kinilaw na Tamilok or Ceviche © Jojie Alcantara

Tamilok is a special culinary “delight” in Palawan for its long, slimy worm like mollusk served raw, with an accompanying side plate for vinegar, lemon and chili to spice it up (which does not erase the memory of what it looks like).  Kinabuch serves it in two version: the other one is a tamer breaded tamilok.

Eating Tamilok in Kinabuch Grill is a bit like joining the Fear Factor series.

Smile a little bravely as you pick the largest, most grotesque looking piece.

How to eat tamilok  © Jojie Alcantara

Replace it with a smaller one and immediately dip it in vinegar. Forever.

How to eat tamilok  © Jojie Alcantara

There you go, brave one.  Now slurp.  Don’t hold your breath.  I would have wanted a video of me in slow motion for your viewing pleasure.  But I wanted to be done with it as quickly.  I actually ate 3 pieces, for documentary purposes.  If you ask me what it tastes like, I would say raw oyster.  With a bit of grime and slime.  Like I tell my grossed out friends… you only live once, remember.

View one blogger’s images in the natural habitat

Other brave souls who also ate the tamilok (a Filipina from abroad (left) and a local resident at right)


Reach out and make me smile! :-)

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