Wait, there’s a bat in your soup!
(A repost from my previous blog)
THE list for exotic food never ends where ever you go and when you’re in Micronesia, specifically Palau, get to know one of the most popular dishes the island has to offer—the fruit bat.
The fruit bat traditional delicacy in Palau has continued to draw attention globally after having been featured in an episode of the show “Survivor Micronesia”
The bats, also known as Flying Foxes, are a traditional food in some Pacific islands but in Palau, it is also considered a delicacy.
I posted about my first encounter with fruit bats in the kitchens of the Penthouse Hotel in Palau many years back. A TV crew from Korea was filming Palau and its attractions, and among the things they covered was the fruit bat soup, a famous traditional delicacy of Palau.
I grabbed the chance to be at the filming where I got excited and started shooting but one of the video people told me to turn the shutter sound on silence. I watched the actors and actresses as they were made to eat the soup from small bowls without them knowing what it was.
After they finished their soup, they were made to guess what it was. No one guessed right, and the kitchen crew brought out a couple of dishes from the kitchen—one with a fruit bat staring from the plate in all its glory, and another dish with another fruit bat all spread out in a sea of coconut milk. The whole fruit bat was in it – fur, wing membranes, feet and little pink tongue sticking out through sharp tiny teeth. The soup, which consists of one “grinning” fruit bat boiled, fur and all, was served on a platter.
The screams that followed after the presentation of the dishes was unforgettable.
For a non-adventurous eater, it takes real guts and a strong daring spirit to eat a fruit bat.
You’re not supposed to swallow the fur but just chew on it until all the musky taste has been sucked out, then you can spit the tasteless fur out.
A hotel staff told me that time that they get orders for fruit bat soup from the Chinese but it is the Chamorros from Saipan and Guam who considers it a local treat and really eats the fruit bat soup. The staff also said that they also get orders from a few Europeans who would like to satisfy their curiosity about this famous delicacy.
I watched in fascination as Penthouse chef Norbert Amadar that time took the frozen bats from the freezer, washed then with cold water, sprinkled salt and put quartered onions on top of them and proceeded to put them in a skillet for boiling.
The fruit bat takes about 35 minutes to be ready, and it depends on how the customer likes it prepared. Fruit bat can be just be cooked with coconut milk, ginger and other spices and served as a soup.
Other people prepare the fruit bat by boiling it for like half an hour, freezing it and boiling it again later until the skin peels off, then marinating it in spices.
Fruit bat is available in several restaurants in the island for about $18 per serving.
If you have eaten fruit bat in Palau, then you can proudly wear the “Been-There, Done-That” label.
Fruit bat soup is rumored to enhance sexual virility, but I guess that is one thing I don’t intend to find out.