Balut egg is recognized to be among the first unique food delicacies of the Philippines. Influenced by Chinese culture, Balut dates back around 200 years earlier. What was once considered an elite meal is now savored with a cold beer.
It’s as casual as ice cream on a hot summer day and as essential in the Philippines as ketchup is on a hotdog. When one sees Balut for the first time, the response might not be the same as a hotdog.
Without the knowledge of the culture in which it was raised, it’s simple to say, “no, thank you.”
For the Philippines, Balut isn’t just something to be savored, but a way of life.
Back in the 1950s, the town of Pateros had around 400,000 ducks producing eggs that would soon become Balut, the top business in the neighborhood.
What precisely does a duck have to do with Balut? What makes it such a preferred among the Filipino culture? Let’s begin breaking the shell on Balut and dive into the thick of it.
What is Balut Egg?
The word Balut is actually derived from the Tagalog word balut, meaning “the unborn chicken egg.” It was used by the Filipinos to describe the soft-boiled egg that was found in the shell of an unborn chicken’s egg.
Balut egg is a street food commonly eaten in the Philippines. However, it is also common in countries like Vietnam, where it’s called hot vit lon, China, Malaysia, Thailand, and other southeast Asian countries.
However, there’s no innovative way to describe and explain Balut to tell it like it is– it’s a fertilized duck egg. Yes, it’s a duck egg that has been incubated at about 104 degrees Fahrenheit for a particular time.
The fertilization procedure for Balut ranges from 16-20 days.
That implies inside this fertilized duck egg is an embryo that is about a week short of hatching. If you can swallow it enough to envision it, the embryo will have a beak and feathers this far in the development process.
There you have it. Balut egg, a delicacy that has been a staple in Filipino culture for more than 200 years, is an unhatched baby duck. Crazy?
However, possibly not much in the Philippines, other traditional foods include Kare-Kare (oxtail stew) and Kaldereta, another kind of meaty stew immersed in liver sauce.
How do you eat Balut Eggs?
Those bold enough to take a balut vendor up on this Filipino delicacy will see that the egg, when served, is warm. Balut is prepared comparable to a hard-boiled egg, but it is not cooled before serving.
Balut eggs are made by gently warming and cracking an unfertilized duck or chicken egg. The resulting embryo is placed into the empty eggshell and then boiled for several hours. Once cooked, it’s peeled off the shell and is usually served as a snack.
Rather, the fertilized duck egg is put in boiling water for 20-30 minutes and eaten as quickly as it reaches the right consistency. Maybe that’s so no one has time to reflect on what they’re eating and change their mind.
Normally in the Philippines, Balut is seasoned with vinegar, salt, or soy sauce, but if you venture to countries such as Vietnam, you’ll find a different method to spice things up.
Here, Balut, or if you remember, in Vietnam, called hot vit lon, is seasoned with salt, pepper, and Vietnamese Coriander, a herb extremely similar in taste to cilantro.
The flavorings come, of course, after the egg has been split and peeled open. Which one do you believe would conceal the reality that you’re eating a fertilized duck egg more?
Balut egg isn’t over in one bite.
For those with a desire to attempt Balut, the complete experience is a bit of a process. Nicole Ponseca is the owner of Maharlika, a Filipino dining establishment in Manhattan’s East Village, and provides an in-depth breakdown of how somebody would go about trying and attempting Balut.
The process begins with the egg and spoon. While holding the egg in one hand, you’ll give the shell a couple of hard hits with the bottom of the spoon till it cracks open.
As soon as it is broken, the top of the shell is removed, and the broth that fills the egg is sipped to expose two different parts of the egg. On one side, you’ll see the yolk and the other the duck.
Ponseca saves the duck for last, consuming the whipped yolk initially and taking the rest down in one last bite. The entire process takes about a minute for somebody who has done this in the past.
However, we’re willing to bet it might take a bit longer for those trying it for the very first time.
Balut egg kind of tastes like chicken.
With all the Balut parts that followed, the shell is broken. It’s not amazing that there would be various tastes one experiences from start to end.
In a couple of various Reddit threads, the juice that comes when the egg is cracked appears to have a similar taste across the board.
One member explains it as a meaty broth and the other as watery chicken broth. Part one appears quite direct. After the juice comes to the egg yolk, which has been referred to as “fluffy and creamy … pudding-like.”
Others have similar ideas, stating it tastes “like custard.”
That part does not appear so bad. However, what follows may make your skin crawl.
When it pertains to the texture of the real duck, there appear to be mixed signals. While some state the meat is tender, dissolving in your mouth as it goes down, others beg to differ.
Chef Kristine Subido remembers her distaste for Balut while growing up in the Philippines.
She avoided it for more than 15 years before trying it once again, stating, “there’s a bit of a crack and crunch when you’re eating it.” That crack and crunch is the beak, the feet, and the bones. Is your skin crawling now?
Balut egg is the late-night food of choice.
Balut is to the Philippines what hotdogs are to America. You know, the stop you make at the cart on the corner after a late night out and put in an order for a hotdog with whatever. Your mouth waters as you take that very first bite.
It might be hard to understand, however, when the sun goes down. Balut sellers turn up along the crowded streets, much like hotdog carts.
Walk around the streets in the evening in the Philippines, and you’ll hear the usual shout-out of the delicacy for those walking by. Being high in protein and other necessary nutrients, those in the Philippines find Balut an inexpensive vitamin option.
In the Philippines, Balut is a popular snack for those looking to fill up vitamins and nutrients. It is also considered a delicacy as it has been in the country since the early 1900s.
This is a good example of how the locals have found a way to make use of a unique and local ingredient, which is now a popular snack option.
After a long night out, it’s their saving grace. “It’s like a power bar,” states balut vendor Butch Coyoca, “people would consume one or two before they go to sleep because they would think that (balut egg) would make up for whatever losses they sustained for not sleeping enough.”
Just how much do you believe you’d need to eat before choosing Balut egg is the very best remedy for lack of sleep? A hotdog sounds a lot better.
Some believe a balut egg is an aphrodisiac.
If you’re not persuaded yet about the appeal of Balut egg, this might seal the deal. Balut might be taken in by both males and females. Nevertheless, for girls, it’s said to provide energy and nutrition.
Men have a little something else in mind when it pertains to Balut.
Balut egg’s high protein content and other nutritional ingredients not just produce energy, however, stimulate a great deal of heat throughout the body, ending up being a natural aphrodisiac.
Balut egg has been called the Filipino Viagra.
Balut eggs are known for their ability to boost the metabolism and increase energy levels. However, they are not just for bodybuilders. Balut eggs are also considered a natural aphrodisiac because of their high protein content.
To verify, Butch Coyoca, a first Filipino American and balut supplier, says out of all that purchase balut from him, 60 percent think that it does increase libido in males. No surprise that 75 percent of his clients are males.
Not surprising that Balut egg would be a late-night snack alternative taken in after a night out, but before one goes back to the bed.
Balut egg-eating contests do exist.
With all that we’ve discovered up until now, could you picture accompanying fellow balut fans and downing lots of Balut eggs in less than 5 minutes? If so, you’ll need to capture a flight to the Northeast, where balut eating contests increase in popularity.
Filipino-influenced restaurants Maharlika and Jeepney in Brooklyn, this New York City-based balut egg-eating contest has drawn out some genuine balut egg-loving contestants.
Given that this yearly contest started, it has seen an outstanding 40 baluts consumed in 5 minutes.
Another competition across the US happened at the Filipino American Festival in New Jersey. Some participants could take in 20 baluts in just 2 minutes and 22 seconds.
Could you be the next balut-eating champ? You’ll need to begin practicing; there seem to be some seriously skilled eaters out there.
Balut egg may treat a hangover.
Depending upon just how much you need to drink the night before, you might be desperate enough to see if the reports hold. Residents in the Philippines rely on Balut as a solution to treat a hangover. Why do you ask?
The reasoning behind this theory is that the yolk in the Balut egg consists of the amino acid cysteine. Cysteine breaks down toxic substances in the liver and helps in removing them from your body.
This can be handy when you have had one drink too many.
However, it’s unclear the number of Balut eggs you’d need to swallow for the treatment to happen.
Do not worry, though, if Balut egg isn’t readily available to you or you do not believe you can handle it with Balut egg as your hangover remedy of choice.
Cysteine can also be found in many other kinds of food, consisting of broccoli, cheese, oats, yogurt, red meat, and garlic.
If you were considering whether or not to have the next drink, luckily, you have choices.
Balut egg yolk is high in cholesterol.
We’ve talked about Balut egg being a high source of protein and numerous other necessary nutrients. However, Balut egg is high in cholesterol.
The yolk of one fertilized duck egg alone holds around 359 mg of cholesterol. That is 59mg more than the daily FDA-advised cholesterol intake of 300 mg.
Because Balut is mainly taken in as a snack, and one like potato chips where you can’t consume just one, it would not be difficult for balut enthusiasts’ cholesterol levels to rise.
High cholesterol can increase the danger of heart disease.
However, the FDA also states that cholesterol benefits the body as it assists the liver produce the needed fluids to help in the food digestion of fat.
Discovering a happy medium seems important. However, it might be difficult for those regular balut eaters.
Given that there are four parts to Balut, possibly avoiding the yolk now and then is an excellent compromise. That still leaves three other parts to be enjoyed.
Westernization is reducing the appeal of Balut egg.
The once-growing balut market now has a hard time surviving. Balut cart owners like Jessie Damasco are downsizing stores because demand is so low. Suppliers who were selling 6,000 baluts a day are now fortunate if they sell 500.
In contrast, the struggling market can be connected to river water contamination in big duck breeding areas of the Philippines.
Some state that the balut market’s demise results from the western impact on the Filippino palette.
With the introduction of junk food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC, and a lot more into the Filipino culture, generations are being presented to a western culture very young.
Young Filipino kids prefer these kinds of restaurants. If we know anything about fast-food restaurants, it’s that they are easily available.
This makes it tough for small balut street egg vendors to take on huge chain fast food restaurants. As a kid, if you had an option between pizza or Balut, what would you select?
There’s been a celebration commemorating Balut egg for more than three decades.
When it pertains to finding the best quality balut, search no more than Pateros, a town within the Philippines.
Pateros is so popular for its production of Balut egg that it has won the Philippines’ title of balut capital.
No surprise that Pateros is home to the yearly Balut sa Puti festival. Held every 31st of January each year, Pateros has been hosting this festival for more than 3 decades.
During the Balut sa Puti celebration, the best balut makers from all around the Philippines display the quality of this local delicacy.
Celebration goers will experience live music and cooking competitions along with having the honor of tasting what Pateros thinks about the best Balut worldwide.
With the western impact impacting the Filipino palette, the tourism department hopes that developing this yearly celebration will bring a revival to the balut market.
Balut egg can be seen on reality TV Show.
The TELEVISION Show Survivor that pits rivals versus each other to consider one the program’s sole survivor has had its share of extreme challenges since its inception.
Since its start, challengers were required to consume pig brains, tarantulas, scorpions, and, you guessed it– Balut.
While some Survivor fans would enjoy taking on the delicacy challenge, one fan saying Balut is “one of Cambodian favorites snack. It tastes yummy,” the show’s host, Jeff Probst, does not share the same enjoyment.
When asked what he would consider the most horrible challenge dish of all time, Balut was the answer without pause. “Those little heads, that tiny body, those light feathers,” he says. “
And the craziest part of all, those are offered in Asian grocery stores in the same manner we sell potato chips.” Probst makes a much better host than a competitor as some survivors could finish the challenge.
A little accomplishment for what might win you a $1 million reward.
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