Adventurous foods: Balut
People really eat Duck Fetus?
They eat Balut in the Philippines, and it might be the only food I refused during my entire trip through Asia.
When I’m traveling, I always want to sample the local food, and I’ll try almost everything. What does that include? I’ve tried guinea pigs (cuy!) in Peru. I’ve eaten grasshoppers and scorpions in Thailand. I ate just about every organ or body party of a cow, duck, or chicken that you can think of in mainland China, including duck intestine, pig brain. Where do I draw the line? Balut – duck fetus. Duck fetus is not for me. I just couldn’t bring myself to try eating a Fetal Duck Egg.
What is Balut? It’s a fertilized duck embryo – the embryo is allowed to grow and mature for about 17 days until it is quite clearly a baby duck. That’s right. A baby duck, with all its baby duck parts stuffed into a shell with the yolk and egg white, now crisscrossed with blood vessels and feather-like growths. Yes, sometimes it is even has the beginnings of feathers. At this point Balut is soft-boiled and eaten whole.
When I got to the Philippines, people were eating Balut as a snack on the streets, in the same way you can pick up hot dogs on the streets of NYC, except in this case it’s duck fetus. You’ll often recognize the wings, bones, beak, and more – Balut is a baby duck. After 17 days (in the Philippines – other southeast Asian countries do it differently), it’s then boiled. It’s often seasoned with a mixture salt, garlic and sometimes vinegar.
Is Balut an outrageous Asian delicacy, or simply classic Pinoy goodness? I’d call it the most disturbing thing I have ever tried to eat in my life, but let me know what you think in the comments below.
I already posted about 7 Philippine cuisines – foods I ate and liked in the Philippines, but Balut is an another category entirely.
If you’d like to see it in action, I’ve curated some of the best video clips of eating Balut below.
A child introduces Balut during his 1st time trying it:
Food Network’s Anthony Bourdain eats Balut:
Travel Channel Andrew Andrew Zimmern eats Balut at a Balutan just outside Manila – start at 2:11:
Eating Balut for the first time:
How to eat Balut:
Videos: beak, feathers, and all (this is not me!)
Fight Quest on Discovery Channel it in January 2008. “Egg with wings” with partially grown feathers.
[in my previous trip, “stinky tofu” in Taiwan was also on the “too repulsive to eat” food list for me]
More info from Wikipedia on Balut.