Sorsogon Delicacy – Baluko

I am not really familiar of its scientific name, but as far as I know, it’s a type of seashell that can be found farther away from the coast of Sorsogon Bay. Frankly, I have no idea how they catch this, but according to some, somebody has to dive for it. Thus, derogatory description of those with blond hair due to the seawater minerals is “parabuso baluko”.

When I was still a kid, it’s easy to buy this from the wet market. I know, because we normally have this, at least, once a month and this was around 20 years ago (jeeez, I am really that old). But lately, sometimes, you won’t find it in the wet market; of course, if you knew somebody, you will find it in abundance and dirt cheap. My in-law, who leaves near Brgy. Bulabog, can get it for PHP60/kilo, cheaper when there’s red tide.

Cooking Baluko
For those who are familiar with Baluko, it’s normally cooked with coconut milk; for those more adventurous ones, they would add crushed hot chili on it. Another version is to cook it, Bicol Express style, with plenty of hot chili and with Baluko as  the ingredient. For my mother-in-law, who is a great cook, she can prepare it on different ways – in this case, simply fry Baluko with vinegar dip. Before she fries it, she tenderizes the meat under a boiling water for several minutes. One can also store it in the freezer after boiling, and cook it later.


Fried Baluko with Vinegar-Chili Dip, courtesy of the author's mother-in-law.

Even during red tide, my father-in-law would buy several kilos of this for personal consumption (yours truly and my own family is one of the beneficiaries). During one of my visits on my in-laws place, he told me that red tide doesn’t affect Baluko due to the fact that it settles on the deeper part of the Sorsogon Bay. Frankly, considering I grew up in a red tide-prone area, I am not really familiar how it affects the seashells – though, I know someone has to avoid seashells at all cost during red tide season! To make the story short, we were never rushed to the hospital after having a hearty meal of Baluco, though, we found ourselves in the restroom after a couple of hours for a different reason.

For those who are not familiar with Baluko, it’s actually the source of that expensive Scallops, normally offered in Chinese restaurants. In Sorsogon wet market, one can buy a kilo for PHP200; it’s cheaper if you buy it from the bagsakan, there are several along the coast of Sorsogon Bay. In Manila’s central wet markets, PHP600/kilo is already cheap and it can hit as high as PHP1,000 in the supermarkets. It’s heavily exported, thus, in Sorsogon one can buy the Baluko meat without the Scallops or simply not find it at all in the market.

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13 Responses to Sorsogon Delicacy – Baluko

  1. Pingback: Cooking Baluko with Seguidilla in Coconut Milk | Sorsogon City

  2. Dave says:

    Just a reaction: Baluko is not the source of what you called expensive scallops, Baluko is actually known as pen shell and totally different from Scallops shells. It’s true that true Scallops are expensive ranging from 200 to 1000/kilo but Baluko is only cheap, the price ranging from 60 to 80 pesos per kilo. Some Chinese restaurant use Baluko maybe when there are short supply of Scallop shells.

  3. Natz says:

    yup, i agree. you can buy this much cheaper if you go directly to fisherman, for as low as 30 to 40 php.

  4. Gieh says:

    I was in Sorsogon just a few weeks ago and was able to try Baluko for the first time. I sauteed it in olive oil, butter and garlic and it was heaven. I bought 10kgs (50.00/kg) as added pasalubong for my loved ones.

  5. Yosef Chavez says:

    Agree with you Dave. I’m from Sorsogon and when I relocated to NCR/Tagalog Region I was surprised they market ‘baloko’ as scallops. Ang alam kong scallops beds natin ay sa may Naro Island, Cawayan, Masbate lang matatagpuan. Ang tawag nila dun ay ‘tikab’ at ‘tikab de kolor’. The shell and body are discarded, yung puting bilog or adductor muscles lang ang binebenta.. Ang adductor muscles ng tikab ay mas mataas ang quality at malambot at generally better tasting compared sa adductor ng baluko na mas makunat pero mas malaki at di masyado bilog. Mas maraming laman ang baluko at nakakain din samantalang sa tikab yung adductor lang ang malaki at usually discarded yung tirang laman. Mas masarap kainin ang scallops kaya mas mahal. Pinakamura na sa Masbate 100-200/kg pero sa Manila or Cebu if you ever see a reseller it’s more expensive. Pareho lang ang pag-harvest sa tikab at baluko pero mas malalaki/mahahaba ang shells ng baluko, usually a foot long, flat, triangular. Ang scallops usually as large as the palm lang. Ang baluko nasa surface lang ng mud seabed samantalang ang scallops ay lumalangoy, like fleeting butterflies, I’ve seen it.

  6. Mem says:

    Isn’t it dangerous to eat this shellfish during red tide?

    • sorsogoncity says:

      Yes, it’s a well known information. However, my father-in-law would ignore this and we, the whole family, actually ate baluko during red tide season. He rationalized that red tide resides above the baluko where it’s normally found.

      If that’s a scientific fact, I really don’t know. But my in-law grew up near the bay. And nobody got sick after that. We actually brought more in Manila, still we stayed healthy.


  7. walter says:

    need supplier for baluko or pen shell, manila base 100 kg a day

  8. sonny sarte says:

    Can I also get a few kilos regularly for my canteen? Thanks

  9. Pingback: Looking for Baluko Suppliers | Sorsogon City

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