Betamax : Filipino grilled blood

Today, we bring you The Red Cellar version of a traditional Filipino street food : Betamax. Playfully named after, from what we’ve gathered, the popular Sony video cassette format of similar iconic appearance. Betamax is a highly sought-after snack food, traditionally made from solid pieces of marinated, skewered and roasted chicken (or duck) blood.

The blood curd itself tends to be pretty mild in flavour and has a texture resembling that of firm tofu. What makes it decidedly shine, however, is the beautiful combinations of seasonings and spices that are first used to marinate and then garnish the final product. It’s a simple, highly nutritive snack, rich in various compounds, vitamins, and minerals, such as iron and protein. Betamax can be enjoyed as an appetiser or, as they’re fond of in the Philippines, a tasty late night bite after a night of heavy drinking.

Enjoy with your favourite ice-cold beer.. 🙂

Here it is :

Ingredients (for 6 skewers)
  • 14 oz blood curd (see notes)
  • skewers, soaked

To marinate (and baste) :

  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • chilli flakes


    1. Mix the mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce and chilli flakes.
    2. Cut the thickened blood mixture into cubes and coat them generously with the marinade.
    3. Leave the mixture in the fridge a couple of hours or preferably overnight.
    4. Grill the blood over a charcoal stove, BBQ, grill pan, or an oven with the grill setting until they’re nicely roasted. Baste the blood with more sauce as it cooks.
    5. Serve with Sinamak (spiced vinegar) and/or roasted peanuts and fresh herbs.

Notes and Tips:

The main ingredient for Betamax is blood curd. Chicken blood is traditionally used but any sort will do. For this recipe, we used pig’s blood, as it is more readily available in most countries. You can generally find 16 oz containers (about 14 oz after steaming) of cooked pig’s blood in Asian markets. Steamed blood will likely be hanging out in the cold meat case. Raw may be found in a separate refrigerated section for prepackaged items or in the frozen area. If you’d like to make your own blood curd from raw blood, here’s a great video tutorial.

Betamix is usually served with a Filipino spiced cane vinegar called Sinamak. If you don’t have a Filipino grocer in your area, it can occasionally be found in a well stocked Asian market. If you can’t seem to locate this particular vinegar, or would prefer preparing it yourself, here’s a simple but flavorful recipe for it. Note: langkawas is galagal and siling labuyo is a chile native to the Philippines. You can use Thai chilies as a good substitute, or a milder chili, if you’d prefer. Cane vinegar can also be found in most large Asian markets.

You can also treat the blood curd as the Chinese do by using a soy broth marinade and coating the finished product with sweet chili / soy sauce, roasted and crushed / powdered peanuts, cilantro and scallions.

If you don’t have a grill or BBQ, you can fry or braise it in a pan with very good results. Time and temperature may vary due to cooking method, but when the Betamax begins to smell fragrant and caramelize on the surface, it should be ready to eat. One final note, cut your blood curd into slices thin enough to heat through easily and not burn, yet thick enough to hold together well, about 2/3 inch (2cm) thick and 2 inches (5cm) long.

Check the sources for other, more traditional sauce options and more information 🙂



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