This dinosaur egg-looking orb is a rare artisanal salt called Asin Tibuok

Published June 8, 2021, 2:41 PM

by John Legaspi

Now, this is not your regular table salt!

Asin Tibuok (Photo from John Sherwin Felix)

The Philippines has its fair share of exotic-looking food. There’s the iconic balut made of a developing duck egg. Another are the frog legs, which, according to many, taste like chicken. And the dinuguan, a black stew that incorporates pig’s blood. Going viral on social media these days is a peculiar orb that looks like a dinosaur egg. While it certainly looks prehistoric, it is not a fossil found in the country but a special condiment crafted through an age-old traditional process.

Foodie John Sherwin Felix, known for his ube halo-halo creation, shared through a now viral Facebook post his recent purchase, the Asin Tibuok, which means “unbroken salt.” The artisanal food is made in Alburquerque, Bohol through a months-long soaking process of coconut husks in seawater. Then husks are sun-dried and burned. The remnant ashes are collected, mixed with seawater again, and boiled in kolun or clay pots. The result is a huge piece of salt, hence its English translation.

“It has a sharp smokey taste and faint fruity flavor,” Sherwin says in his post. “You can powderize this and use as a regular salt or break it into big chunks and dip it on rice porridge.”

Upon trying it out , Sherwin noticed that the different parts of the unbroken salt have significant taste profiles. The salt near the mouth of the kolun has a more intense smokey flavor compared to the more exposed part of the salt.

According to the National Museum Bohol (NMB), the Asin Tibuok heritage is now a dying tradition. Despite its distinct taste and history, demands for it declined during the 2000s.

“Few families in Alburquerque, and at least one in the neighboring town of Loay, continue to produce this salt,” NMB says. “With flourishing tourism prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remaining salt makers sustained the industry by selling the Asin Tibuok as an artisanal salt. It will indeed take a concerted effort and commitment by the local community to preserve this unique Bolanon heritage.”

Currently, there are a few stores where you can buy the salt. Sherwin says interested buyers can purchase from Marijel Nobong, a native in Alburquerque, and from online store Ritual PH.

Watch how Asin Tibuok is made here.