Balut is a delicacy in the Philippines and in other Asian countries, that often scares people away. After all, it is no less than a duck egg boiled with the embryo still alive inside. It may look like your regular white chicken egg on the outside, but don’t be fooled. Cracking one open will reveal an interesting, out of this world gastronomic experience for those who would dare. It is said to be a great source of protein and calcium and is good for weak knees. It is an aphrodisiac too.

The town of Pateros in Rizal is considered as the Balut Capital of the Philippines. The whole process of making the balut starts with incubating the fertilized duck eggs for ten days. These eggs are then taken out of the incubator and individually inspected under a light to see if the embryos developed. An indication of this are visible spider- like veins. The eggs with developed embryos are placed back in the incubator. After seven to eight days, the eggs are again inspected for quality. The good eggs are boiled and are then sold as balut.

A balut up close.
Eating balut is not for the faint-hearted! (Photo Credit: Kathy del Castillo)

This famous street food is very easy to find. You just have to listen out for the vendors calling out “baluuut, baluuut” come dark. Many of them carry around a basket filled with balut that are covered carefully to keep them warm. Some people have also started selling these duck eggs in actual shops, making them available most times of the day.

So how exactly do you eat this exotic delight? Heed these tips to avoid making a mess as balut is meant to be eaten as soon as the vendor hands it to you. Yes, you do it straight off the shell. Warm and nice. No fancy equipment necessary. Not even a spoon.

1. Start by cracking (just hit it on any hard surface) the rounder part of the egg. Then carefully peel the shell to make a small hole. You’ll know you are doing it right if you see a hollow space and the amniot ic fluid. Don’t put too much pressure or you will be spilling all the soupy goodness.

2. Season the balut with some salt and drink up. Vendors usually give out salt wrapped in newspaper and shaped like a cone. You can also add in some vinegar mixed with garlic and chili. Vendors have this stored in mineral water bottles with a small hole drilled in the cap.

3. Peel more of the shell to reveal the embryo and the yolk. Most locals would just devour everything in an instant, leaving only the albumin or the egg white. You can do this too to stop you from changing your mind about eating it. But if you are a curious soul who wants to savor every flavor and texture, go ahead and take your time.

4. The albumin is eaten last. Some find it too hard so they just throw it away.

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About Kathy del Castillo

Kathy is a free spirit who has an attention span equivalent to that of a squirrel. So it's only seemly that she has a penchant for adventures and spontaneity. And because she is expected to earn her keep, she works as an online freelancer doing (what else?) random stuff.


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2 Responses to "How to Eat: Balut"

  1. Pingback: Food Cart Culture in the Philippines

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