Being the 3rd largest city in the Philippines, Zamboanga is a whole new world of food that you should explore. A peninsula teeming with marine life, their vibrant selection of food comes with creative ways to serve viands fresh from the sea. They make use of unique ingredients and spices that make them stand out from other cuisines.

Get to know Zamboanga’s fascinating culture with a taste of their most well-known delicacies. Here are the must-eats in Zamboanga City:

 

Moro Cuisine (Latal)

Latal is a platter with servings of Tausug’s native delicacies. The bowl served in the middle is called tiulah itum, a beef and goat stew with a rich, black broth made from roasted coconut. The other dishes that surround it are beef piyassak, beef kulma, chicken piyanggang, chicken kiyaliya, kiyaliyah kapayah, calamares, and fried fish. This platter is good for 4-6 persons.

Where to eat: Bay Mal Tal, Vangeorge Bldg, Don Toribio Street, Tetuan

 

Oko-oko

Oko-oko is a dish that is sure to catch your eye. This delicacy is cooked sea urchin stuffed with rice that has been sauteed and flavored. It is said that oko-oko is incredibly tedious to make, having to carefully clean and remove the spines of the urchin before stuffing it with rice.  To eat it, simply crack the shell open like you would with a boiled egg.

Where to eat: Sta. Cruz Island

 

Chupa Culo

Chupa Culo is a must-try if you’re adventurous with food. Its name comes from the Spanish terms chupa = to suck, and culo =  behind. This dish is made of black snails cooked in coconut milk and pako (fiddlehead fern). The meat is kept inside the shell to soak up all the flavor of the sauce. The best (and only) way to eat this is to suck the meat out of the shell, hence the name.

Where to eat: Sta. Cruz Island

 

Curacha

Curacha is definitely on the top of the list of must-try eats in Zamboanga. The Chavacano name is derived from the phrase “cockroach of the sea”. This crustacean is abundant in the waters of Zamboanga, and looks like a hybrid of a crab and a lobster. What makes the curacha different is that its meat can be found in its broad body instead of its claws. The dish is prepared with a special sauce made from coconut milk and a few secret spices. It’s quite challenging to extract the meat from the shell, but the reward makes it all worthwhile. Despite its huge size, it’s too easy to eat too much than what is recommended— it’s that good!

Where to eat: Alavar Seafood Restaurant, Don Alfaro Street, Tetuan

 

Satti

Satti is similar to the satay dish of Malaysia and Indonesia (grilled beef or chicken skewer with peanut sauce). This dish, on the other hand, has a sweet red sauce. It’s a typical breakfast food for the residents of Zamboanga City, eaten with rice cooked in coconut leaves or puso. Joints that serve this dish open as early as 3 a.m. to serve the early birds.

Where to eat: Morning Sun Satti House, Pilar Street, Barangay San Jose Gusu

 

Watch our Zamboanga Food Trip below:

Have you tried any of these dishes yet? Share it with us in the comments!

Erwan Heussaff
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