Eat Like a Local in Cebu with These 4 Dishes

Cebu is the master of the crispy Lechon. The art of roasting a pig, in which you get that perfect mouthwatering “snap”, simply can’t
be recreated anywhere else. Sure, come to the island to try their Lechon, but to experience Cebu like a local there are other dishes that bring justice.

It’s highly likely that you’ve never heard of dishes like tuslob buwa or nilarang, but they’ve been sought after on the streets for decades. Try these 4 dishes to get an authentic experience of Cebuano cuisine.

 

Nilarang

Nilarang originates from a small town called Pasil. “Larang” can either mean ‘a forbidden dish‘ or ‘to stew with coconut milk and spices‘— it’s up to
you to take the definition you prefer. The dish is a medley of spicy and sour flavors that come from tomatoes, chilis, tamarind, and other local souring agents.

Why is it referred to as “the forbidden dish”? It’s commonly cooked with parrotfish, but on the streets you can find stalls making this stew with pufferfish, stingrays, and other exotic fish. This dish is a go-to comfort food for the intoxicated looking for a hangover cure.

 

Tuslob Buwa

Another dish born out of the small town of Pasil, Tuslob Buwa is another crowd favourite. It’s a communal fare, where customers dip puso (cooked rice wrapped in coconut leaves) into an open pot of bubbling gravy. 

Pig brain and liver sautéed with garlic and onion is heated up in a wok until it reaches a thick and sticky consistency. The fatty and pungent sauce clings onto the puso perfectly, which makes for a perfect bite. 

 

Pungko-Pungko

Pungko-pungko is not really a dish, it’s more of a dining custom in Cebu. “Pungko” in Cebuano means “to squat”, so a pungko-pungko is an eatery where you sit on low benches while you eat an assortment of fried food.

 

You can find lumpia, bola-bola, and the most sought-after ginabot. Seasoned, battered, and deep-fried intestines are dipped in a vinegar mix for that classic combination of fatty and sour. 

 

Bakasi

This nilarang bakasi was featured on Netflix’s Street Food, and for good reason. This fish stew that tastes familiarly like sinigang, is made with saltwater eels. The soup is flavored with fermented black beans and sour green mangoes. You can find several bakasihans on the island, but Entoy’s Bakasihan in Cordova, Cebu is definitely a standout.

 

Follow our food trip in Cebu!

Watch the video below to follow our food trip in Cebu, as we try their unique local eats and explore the islands!

Erwan Heussaff
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