By Madellaine Ortea 2021-03-05

Are Neon Balls Edible? They Sure Are! 

Nothing is wackier than eating Filipino dishes. Westerners usually find them different and unusual. Other parts of Asia may not share the same sentiment, because they too have strange dishes to offer. However, Filipinos take the cake when it comes to eye-catching colors. From the unique purple hue of ube to the different brightly-colored layers of sapin-sapin, Filipinos want their food to pop. 

What do you expect when you see a fried orange ball? Bright colors usually indicate a burst of flavor, usually something sweet. Maybe tangy like the citrus origin of the color. It's none of those things. When you take bite out of it, you'll pass right through the crunchy exterior and into the soft white membrane of a hard-boiled egg. The taste of the breading and yolk combine together in an intriguing mix, especially when dipped in vinegar. 



Kwek-kwek is a Filipino street food made out of hard-boiled quail or chicken eggs (tokneneng). It is coated in an orange batter, fried, and served with vinegar. The bright color is due to the addition of annatto powder, a red-colored spice. It's origins are unclear but a local story claims that kwek-kwek was made accidentally by a balut vendor in Cubao when she dropped her balut eggs. Not wanting to waste her products, she rolled the eggs in flour and fried them. Kwek-kwek usually refers to the fried quail eggs while tokneneng refers to the chicken egg. The origin of the latter's name allegedly came from the 1978 Pinoy comics called Batute. The titular character has his own language and called eggs as tokneneng. 

Kwek-kwek is one of the more popular street foods in the Philippines. It has an iconic shape and color that anyone can identify from afar. Street vendors also provide their customers with dips for their kwek-kwek. It's the same dips used for fish balls and other tusok-tusoks. Although the usual option is to dip it in vinegar rather than the soy sauce-based dip. 

Despite its notoriety for being a wacky dish by its looks, kwek-kwek's flavor is only mildly surprising given that you're basically eating hard-boiled eggs coated in batter. It's not that much of a challenge to cook and eat it. 


  • 12 to 18 pieces boiled quail eggs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp annatto powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooking oil


  1. Dredge boiled quail eggs in cornstarch. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Mix the annatto powder in warm water and pour in the bowl. Mix well.
  4. Place all the quail eggs in the bowl and coat with batter on every surface.
  5. Heat a small wok and pour the cooking oil.
  6. Keep the heat at medium until oil is hot enough. Lower the heat slightly and deep fry the quail eggs by scooping them from the bowl with an ample amount of batter clinging onto it.
  7. Repeat with the other quail eggs and fry in small batches, careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  8. When the batter turns to a nice golden orange hue, remove the fried quail eggs and drain oil on a paper towel or rack.
  9. Serve with vinegar or fish ball sauce while hot.

Recipe can be found in Panlasang Pinoy. Ingredients can be sourced from My Tindahan. Image from Panlasang Pinoy.


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