Tamilok, commonly known as “woodworm,” is a cold, slimy, squirmy, gray-like creature that has become an emerging famous exotic delicacy in some regions in the Philippines.
On the contrary, “Tamilok” is technically not a worm but it’s a mollusk common to areas surrounded by mangroves or “bakawan.”
Some people even misnamed Tamilok as “naval shipworms” because some thrive in and consume the ship’s wooden frame or body.
Mostly, Tamilok can be found in decaying trees, or woods submerge in saltwater—which is one of their primary habitats.
Anatomically speaking, Tamilok has chisel-like teeth, which are indeed unnoticeable. No wonder they can thrive through the wood.
I got to experience this kind of extraordinary dish when we were offered by an exotic dish vendor at Sabang beach in Palawan in March 2014 before heading to one of the world’s certified wonders of nature, the Palawan Underground (Subterranean) River.
At first, I was so reluctant. I even dissuaded my colleagues not to try it, considering that we were on a trip to a very remote place and being hospitalized due to gastrointestinal problems would perchance mar our vacation.
For the sake of tasting the popular and most exotic delicacy in Palawan and after minutes of persuasion, the group finally submitted to the vendor’s influence.
In my own opinion, it tastes a little bit salty and slimy because it’s raw. The Tamilok we tasted was marinated in vinegar, garlic, onions and red hot chili pepper.
They say it has health benefits aside from its aphrodisiac effect.
Tamilok is endemic in places like Palawan, Aklan and Antique.
I am still looking forward to tasting it again once I come back to Palawan.