Would You Try Rotten Fish?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ginamos fermented fish
Photo Credit:  smallislander 
 Would you eat mud colored, funny smelling fish that's been rotting for days, even weeks?

Would you dare try it?

Hell yeah! I would even eat it everyday if I could!

Ginamos, as it's known in my hometown Davao City, is made of fermented small fish that has been allowed to rot. It looks, sounds and smells disgusting. But for Davaoeños like myself, and people from most parts of Visayas and Mindanao, we hoard this delicacy like it's gold!

 The smell of ginamos brings back childhood memories of summers spent in my province in Davao Oriental. We would eat ginamos with everything. That includes rice, fried fish, bananas, mangoes, sweet potatoes and even just by itself. My grandma would call us for merienda (afternoon snack) and we would all run to the kitchen and feast on boiled, unripe bananas with bowls of ginamos with chili and lemonsito (Philippine lemon). It makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

Photo Credit: karlhans
This concoction is very popular in the fishing villages as it is a cheap meal that can feed an entire family. The fact that it's extremely salty makes it a good combination for bland food. Just a few spoon fulls on rice or mais which is ground corn will be sure to satisfy your hunger pangs.

In some regions in the Philippines, they use ginamos as a flavor enhancer instead of salt or soy sauce.  They add it to vegetable dishes or ensalada which is a salad made mostly with mangoes, tomatoes and eggplants. They even use it as a condiment or a dipping sauce for anything and everything.   

I got mixed reactions from people when I told them I was writing about the quirky food, ginamos. My friends from Cebu and Davao asked me:

Photo Credit: bon2x
Quirky? What's so quirky about ginamos? We eat that everyday at home.  

My friends from Manila just gave me a look that said:

Are you serious? That sounds so disgusting.

Of course my friends from other parts of the world wouldn't even hear of it. They were just so disbelieving.

Hey, you guys actually eat maggots living in cheese! Ginamos sounds lame compared to that!

I haven't been back to my hometown in almost 4 years now. But one thing's for sure. The first meal I'll ask for is boiled bananas and a saucer full of ginamos with lots of lemonsito. Quirky or not, it's very Filipino. And it's delicious!

Do you have a delicacy from your hometown that would seem quirky to others but oh-so-good for you? Please share it with us by leaving a comment below. We love hearing from you.

Sole Sister Lois

This is our entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival themed Quirky Foods hosted by Journeying James. Click on the Blog Carnival Logo on the left to see other Pinoy Travel Blogger's Carnival topics.

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23 sole trails

  1. Love ginamos with fried fish. Yum yum yum.

  2. Ako din, favorite dipping sauce namin yan added with lots of kalamansi juice

  3. OO nga Aleah, wanna try it tuloy. Although I don't know if we can find ginamos in Manila...

  4. OO nga Claire. Napapadami lagi ang kain ko ng kanin pag may ginamos. Not sure if that's a good thing!

  5. eee. i love the unripe banana with ginamos. i soo missed my childhood days.

  6. Is it somewhat like bagoong...But better?

  7. i love this, lalo na sa fried fish or sa pakbet.

  8. Hahah that's right fetus. Funny how I also associate my childhood days with food. Isa pa: grilled saging na saba na may margarine at asukal. In love that stuff!

  9. Yeah it's like bagoong but it's made from fish instead of shrimps. You should try it Carl.

  10. Agreed with you James. Kakamiss kumain ng ginamos tuloy!

  11. I heart Ginamos!
    Pero kumakain lang ako niyan kung kilala ko ang gumawa.
    We don't actually buy those in the wet market.
    Langaw much?
    Ginisang ginamos (with lots of oil and tomatoes) is my fave ULAM.

  12. I would try this. For some reason I think I would like it. It doesn't sound as bad as the other filipino dish I heard about, Balut.

    A meal we have here in the midwest US is lutefisk. It is a cod fish soaked in lye and turned into something like jelly. I haven't tried it before, but I watched someone eat it. That was enough for me.

  13. I went to Davao but never saw this! Although I did try balut, was not a fan.

  14. I agree Dutch. I only eat this if it's my grandma who made it. Yeah, sometimes they don't really make this stuff in very 'sterile' conditions let's just say. Kanus-a pa kayha ko makakaon usab?

  15. Yeah I agree Steve. I would eat ginamos more than Balut. I hardly eat that stuff. Well, maybe if the chick is not yet that well-developed if you know what I mean. Sometimes, it can have feathers! Yuck.

    That lutefish sounds interesting. Something I would probably try at least once.

  16. Wow! I didn't realize you've been to my hometown Ayngelina. It would have been nice to show you around, Although I've been away far too long that you may end up showing ME around!

    I've sent you something in the mail. Looking forward to hearing from ya!

  17. I love ginamos! I'm from davao too and I grew up in a household that always had ginamos.

  18. i just love it! lalo na pag super super super anghang and ung ginagamit na suka eh ung sukang pinakurat (fermented coconut vinegar) uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh isawsaw sa ginisang talong at okra!!! yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    the balut thing... it taste good IF it's 16 days old... when it's 18days... it's really disgusting to eat... although i've seen the survivor show... wth eats a balut with all the feathers, bones and almost shaped duck fetus? well some do... i don't....

  19. Here in Bolinao,Pangasinan we have different variation of bagoong that is made of fish not shrimps but the most famous of them here is what we call  here "bagoong na padas" it is also like bagoong but made of fingerlings of "barangen" or malaga.

  20. Oh my God! I so missed eating ginamos. I haven't tasted it for years! My favorite version is the one that's cooked with coconut, takes the bones away and what's left is the smooth yummy liquid.  

  21. ginamos is just DIVINE! coming from Davao myself... but i prefer the ones where they use the smaller dilis as it doesn't look that much disgusting and the sauce is more dirty white than dark grey... love this when it's way too spicy with the calamansi, sibuyas, kamatis and sukang pinakurat/tuba vinegar that's been soaked with garlic, onion, paminta and ginger.

    as for the balut, i saw the one you're mentioning in survivor... i can eat as much balot when it's 16/17 days... though occasionally i do eat an 18 day balut which is the "balut sa puti", these are the ones where the chick has a bit of feathers yet you hardly can taste it and the bones are not so developed that you can taste every inch of it... and you can suck it out cleanly and me sabaw pa rin... i think those they serve on survivor are a 19/20 day egg judging on how well developed those baluts are... even i wouldn't eat those...disgusting. 

  22. nah! kalami ra anang ginamos. ginapalaman paman gali na sa saging na nilung-ag. wa jud ning taga manila, wa kailag lami! hahahah


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