Famous and cheap Filipino street food

Manga at bagoong
Manga at bagoong

Ready to go on a food trip? Philippine street foods also known as “pagkaing kalye” describes a wide range of ready-to-eat foods and bev­erages sold and prepared in public places. Street foods are mostly spotted at schools, busses and jeep terminals, churches and parks.

Being exposed to these kind of foods when growing up in the Philippines makes you crave it, especially with this warm summer weather. We have the very famous skewered chicken and pork barbecue, the thirst-quench­ing sago and gulaman and the sweet treat halo-halo.

Rich and poor benefit from nutritious and low cost meals that are prepared in minutes right before our very eyes.

Pagkaing kalye is compa­rable to the food vendors we normally see at our very own Calgary Stampede grounds. But we have more exotic ingredients that we, as Fili­pino-Canadians, will have a great food challenge. Are you ready to try some of the bits and pieces of our version of pagkaing kalye?

Fish balls
Fish balls

Kikiam came from the Chinese food quekiam. It is made of ground pork and vegetables wrapped in bean curd sheets or taupe. These are made from the skin that forms on the surface when soy milk is boiled. It can be bought in Asian stores. It is used as a wrapper the same way spring rolls are made. We use five-spice powder for the distinct taste of this pork roll. The five-spice is a mixture of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, pepper­corn and fennel.

Balut is a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It orig­inated in the Philippines, but is a common food in coun­tries in Southeast Asia such as Vietnam, Laos and Cam­bodia. It can be unappetizing to some since the embryo can be seen.


The proper way to eat balut is to suck out the amniotic fluid before peeling it off. Balut is best enjoyed with vinegar and salt.

Kwek-kwek or toknen-eng kwek-kwek is a popu­lar street food in the Philip­pines. These are boiled quail eggs dipped in orange batter then deep fried until crispy. Tokneneng kwek-kwek are boiled chicken or duck eggs.

Taho is a bean curd made of silken tofu. It is topped with arnibal, sweet syrup or caramelized brown sugar with sago or tapioca. Taho is sold by peddlers called as “magtataho.”

Fish balls
Fish balls

Camote cue or banana cue is prepared using a ba­nana or sliced sweet potato coated with caramelized brown sugar and skewered on a bamboo stick. These are mostly prepared in the late afternoon for merienda.

Chicharon bulaklak are pig intestines or chit­erlings that are boiled and fried to a crisp. They are usually served as an appe­tizer together with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce.

Fish balls and squid balls are made from finely chopped cuttlefish or pollock that are formed into small balls. They are deep fried and can be dipped in your preference of sauce. Back home, these can be easily be found being served on push carts in the streets.

Halo-halo, a summertime favourite.
Halo-halo, a summertime favourite.

Binatog are boiled corn kernels mixed with milk, shredded coconut and a sprinkle of sugar or salt. This is made by soaking mature white corn in water and salt until puffed. The soaked corn kernels are then boiled until the skin almost peels off.

Halo-halo is a mix of shaved of ice, evaporat­ed milk, beans, gulaman, pinipig, a variety of sweet­ened fruits and nata de coco. It is topped with leche flan, ube and ice cream. It is a Filipino favourite, especially during the hot summer.

Barbeque—there is a vast variety of styles of BBQ. Most often, one will encoun­ter marinated chicken or pork that is grilled on hot charcoals. All the parts of the chicken or pig are used, from the skin, intestine and even the blood.

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About the Author

analiz-cabalceChef Analiz Cabalce is the Chef de Partie at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel.

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