Just saw a show recently where balut (balot) was shown and eaten. For anyone unfamiliar, it is a developing duck embryo. It is mostly eaten in Southeast Asia and the Philippines.
A number of questions came to mind when I saw the food for the first time. But I have to confess, I didn’t want to try one.
I was wondering if anyone out here has tried it, and if so, did you like the taste, was it terrible, or was it just a “meh” experience?
As for the texture… Are any parts of the duck developed enough to detect in the mouth? I am thinking feathers, beaks, feet, cartilage, eyes, etc.
I understand the embryos are about 17-21 days old (ballpark), and when looking at the Balut before eating, you can clearly see parts of the bird that are defined… But I have no idea how much this can be discerned by the consumer’s mouth.
FTR, the people who eat it seem to enjoy it quite a bit, and it is often sold as a street food in some places, sort of like a hot dog or pretzel.
For anyone who knows the history of balut or live in a part of the world that sells this, can you tell us why duck eggs seem to be the choice? Are other bird embryos eaten like this as well, and if so, which ones?
Filipino here so my inputs might not count. I grew up on the thing and I ate only the broth and the yolk. I dont eat it regularly but if I find myself buying one I always ask for the tiniest embryo possible (yes, they can pick it out for you.) Die hards of course want to show off and get the biggest bird they can find, but i’ll pass, I say to them.
SFP, as far as I know, balut was introduced by the Chinese. Duck farming around the capital centered around Pateros and Tondo, where you have swampy ground, ideal for raising ducks. Duck eggs are larger, with sturdier shells, so I guess they get experimented on a lot more than chicken eggs. And no, I have never come across a chicken balut.
Surprisingly, a few years ago while visiting my in-laws in the Phoenix are, I saw both chicken and duck balut on sale at an Asian grocery store in Chandler (I believe). I was not feeling brave enough that day to try. It’s the only time I’ve ever seen balut on sale at a store so far.
I’ll take your word for it because I never tried eating the chick. Still, we fun loving Filipinos try to convince the tourists to eat the chick. and balut eating is usually done at night outside so you don’t have to see what you’re eating. Either that or you wash the whole thing down with fiery gin.
Thanks all for the replies so far. Food like this fascinates me, because I cannot imagine how hungry the first person must have been to actually try one. I cannot personally imagine how hungry I’d have to be to even come close to eating one on purpose. I can’t eat something that is actually looking back at me. (Yes, I know the duckling isn’t alive, but that eyeball looks alive enough.)
And from what I saw, there is an actual method to preparing these things, so it wouldn’t be like someone stumbling on an egg in a nest, opening it and seeing the state of the embryo and saying “bottoms up!” Then, after enjoying it, starting a production facitilty so family and friends could start enjoying them also.
Every time I hear a food is good for the libido, it seems like it is a food that most folks wouldn’t want to eat. I guess it is a good marketing tagline, but I wonder if there is any truth to the claim. I’ve heard the same thing about mountain oysters, and no… I’ve never wanted to try one of those either.
Let my libido suffer!
Terminus Est - thanks for sharing about the consistency of the ducking. I suspected as much, but looking into the egg would indicate otherwise. I can’t imagine something with feathers would go down easy.
It’s funny, I was thinking about balut this morning. I had two broody hens sitting on eggs. Valentine’s hatch date was yesterday. Three of the eggs hatched, and she abandoned the ones that weren’t hatched yet to tend to the chicks, who had gotten out of the nest.
The other hen, Eve, had eggs that weren’t due to hatch for 2 weeks, so they were 7 days developed. I decided to sacrifice those eggs and give her the abandoned but hatching eggs from Valentine. Anyway, I had ten chicken eggs with 7 day old embryos in them.
It seemed too gross to feed to the dogs, but then I remembered balut, and decided it was OK. The dogs didn’t seem too offended. They still looked pretty damn gross to me.