Isaw (Grilled Chicken Intestines) , a pinoy street food

Dec 05

isawOnce every so often, my daughters crave for street food like isaw. I find isaw, disgusting to eat. It’s funny but I don’t mind eating diniguan (Black “chocolate” dish or chocolate meat). Anyway, I gave in to the girl’s monthly binge. Their favorite road side stand is in front of Ilang-Ilang Residence Hall at the UP Diliman Campus in Quezon City. The vendors barbecue late in the afternoon and you can see the queue as they wait for their isaw to be grilled. I don’t know what’s so great about isaw. “It’s cheap and it tastes good!“. the girls chorus. Sure, it’s cheap and tasty but is it clean? Can chicken intestines get thorougly cleaned inside and out?

When I reach home, I google for “isaw” . I get horrifed at this article, Pinoy favorites lechon, isaw, spaghetti are ‘most dangerous’ treats. Prof. Ma. Patricia V. Avanza, Ph.D. of the Food Science and Nutrition Department of the UP College of Home Economics in Diliman, Quezon City reveal that ” they are the most “dangerous” Filipino dishes, largely because of the insufficient cooking methods involved.”

the “bitter” taste which greets your mouth when you bite into the fried chicken intestines can be identified.

“That bitter taste is fecal matter,” she announced, raising gasps and yelps of disgust from her listeners.

“Normally, yung internal temperature, pag nag-co-cook ka ng isaw, hindi adequate eh,” she explained, pointing out that
not only is isaw usually improperly cooked, it is improperly cleaned.

*Yelp* Ugh. Now I know. I informed my daughters promptly. “So if it’s bitter, you know what to do!”

The grilling is not adequate to kill the bacteria or parasites.
isaw

Yes it looks cooked but are the bacteria killed by the cooking?
isaw

isaw41.jpg
You dunk the isaw sticks into vinegar

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Noemi Lardizabal-Dado (360 Posts)

Noemi, Editor of Blog Watch and features editor of Philippine Online Chronicles is a 55 year old mother to three kids and is married to Atty. Luis H. Dado. She loves being a full time mother and homemaker after retiring as a Researcher/Consultant from the UP Institute for Small Scale Industries in 1987. Now that her children are all college graduates, she devotes her time to grief support, blogging, new media events and using her blogs to promote online advocacies. Her personal blog is at aboutmyrecovery.com, which garnered numerous awards such as Best Website, Blog Category during the 9th and 10th Philippine Web Awards. Her blog also won in the Blog- Personal Category of the DigitalFilipino.com Web Awards 2007 and Globelines Broadband Family Blog Award (in honor of family-oriented blogging) 2007 Philippine Blog Award. Globe also recognized her as Digital Elder in the 2009 Philippine Blog Award.


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  • Tony Aguado

    Hi!
    Your interesting post on “Isaw” made me look it up in Wikipedia. It states in a brief article that the intestines are turned inside out and cleaned’ hence no faeces to be ingested.
    However I have never tried isaw and am unlikely to ever try it, just like “Adidas”, deep fried chicken fetuses, cock’s combs and other delights our inventive people manage to salvage from going onto the scrap heap. I am all for ecological eating and not wasting anything, so I am glad a use is found for these items.

  • Cindy Meabon

    hi i showed my american bf pics of some Filipino street foods…. and it helps, ur site helps keep up!

  • Rey Esparagoza

    Did someone say that isaw is improperly cooked and cleaned? And that the bitter taste is fecal matter? Paano nya nalaman na fecal matter nga you? nakatikin na ba sya ng fecal matter? Well if indeed it is disgusting and dirty, it will eventually cause disease among those those who patronize this food. We shouldn’t have any population problem then.

    Disgusting foods to some is a delicacy to some.

    rey

  • di

    well there are some vendors naman here in the philippines who boil it first and some make it as an adobong isaw bago itransfer sa mga skewers… if they are cooked thoroughly naman i guess it won’t cause you any trouble unless na lng if hindi napapasukan ng germs ung katwan mo… if maarte talaga but you crae for this street food, i would suggest that you do it at home so you’ll know its really clean…

    its considered a “pinoy” delicacy, a truly tatak pinoy food…rather saying something bad about it…try to experiment on how we can improve this dish or somehow know the proper way of handling this items to avoid contamination and food borne illnesses…

  • di

    well there are some vendors naman here in the philippines who boil it first and some make it as an adobong isaw bago itransfer sa mga skewers… if they are cooked thoroughly naman i guess it won’t cause you any trouble unless na lng if hindi napapasukan ng germs ung katwan mo… if maarte talaga but you crave for this street food, i would suggest that you do it at home so you’ll know its really clean…

    its considered a “pinoy” delicacy, a truly tatak pinoy food…rather saying something bad about it…try to experiment on how we can improve this dish or somehow know the proper way of handling this items to avoid contamination and food borne illnesses…

  • yohan

    the bitter taste is not a fecal matter…it is the lining of the intestine called lumen..beides fecal matters don’t stay in the intestine…food goes right through there then getting the nutrients…it is then digested and the rest is history…

    clear? lol

  • Paul

    Very well said mr. Yohan!

  • pany

    ang isaw para sakin ay masarap! hehe amoy p lng nagccrave nko…. nasa nagluluto nman yan…madalas pinapatusta ko para luto tlga. sarap nitong pulutan! yummmy… proud akong pinoy! kumakain ako nito.yung iba maarte lng tlga,ayaw kumain ng mga gnito. kaya nga may mga tinatawag tyong “soldiers” sa ating katawan,tumutulong labanan ang mga maduduming pumapasok sa katawan ntin.d rin nman maganda masyadong malinis sa katawan db…hehehe life is too short,enjoy enjoy lng. sarapppp ng isaw! ;)

  • charlene

    as long as you don’t eat this everyday, it won’t be harmful. balanced diet nga diba.
    i miss isaw and other ihaw foods. wala yan dito sa london.

  • http://pinoyfoodblog.om ric anthony

    masarap ng isaw pag ikaw ay gutom…kung maarte kau mas mabuti pang wag nlang kau kumain….para naman kayong malinis….. try it to eat!!!

  • AJ

    Chicken intestines? looking at the pictures i can say that the intestines were cut to open it, therefore, an attempt was made to clean it thoroughly, maybe the good doctor (of philosophy) of UP haven’t tried the foods she said are “dangerous”.

  • lian’s BBQ and Tuna grill

    we buy it from the wetmarket its already cleaned. we boil it , then cooked it again for the flvoring, then grilled it. hmmm….. enjoy delicious pinoy original isaw goes with cold beer for a perfect combination, how’s that sounds to you? maybe you ought to change your mind coz diffnetely your missing one of the greatest pinoy delicacy ISAW. everyone here loves it. try it my friend.

  • banjo

    alright..anybody knows how to clean “isaw”? i want to add this to my barbeque stand….masarap nga sya…

  • JD

    The bitter taste is not fecal matter. It is what we call Carcinogens. They are result of either being burnt when cooked or just from the grill itself.

  • Foreigner living in mandaluyong

    I happen to really enjoy Isaw but like you i am concerned about its “safety” i continue to eat it as often as every two weeks or so! I just LOVE the taste, it is defiantly EXOTIC and different from the foods we eat in California. I wanted to mention that your post and the information from the professor may be uninformed? all of the recipes that that i have found for Isaw require 3 essential steps for removing bacteria and for preparation (additional steps seem to be each vendors specialty, however these steps are required) first cleaning the isaw inside and out with a stick and “flipping” the intestine inside out(i have personally done this method to goat intestine and am amazed at how effective it is!) second the intestine is boiled for at LEAST 30 minutes, if this is not done the chewiness is unpalatable, LASTLY the intestine is put onto a skewer and barabacued, i ALWAYS ask for mine “tostado” not because i feel it needs to be cooked more but because the taste is so much more sarap! Please at leat try it if you can stomach the effort it really is worth the trial i did despite ALL of my upbringing and past food experiance and i am so glad i did! i choose isaw over ANY other pinoy street food ANY day… hmmm.. but qwick qwuick is so good too… :P hahahaha….

  • Glenn

    The bitter taste that u taste form isaw really comes from the fecal matter itself. it is the green/yellow part that u can see inside the grilled isaw. If you come to think of it is really disgusting but it is what makes the unique and delicious taste of isaw that is uncomparable to other foods. try eating isaw without this green fecal matter part you will not enjoy it. It will just taste like a normal grilled pork/chicken variety. . . So u better have a healthy and uncompromised immune system, If you want to eat this delicious filipino street food delicacy. . This food is unhealthy and unsanitary, but it really taste good and have a unique and addictive taste. . .So eat it with your own regard. . Eating this will make you think that even fecal matter/shit can be also palatable to humans. Haha. . .