Manila Stories and Tips

How to Eat Balut (Unhatched Duckling)

Balut Photo, Manila, Philippines

When I watched the episode of Fear Factor where contestants were made to eat Balut, I laughed like a loony. It was hilarious seeing the horror and disgust on those poor people's faces upon seeing the egg that is considered a delicacy in the Philippines. I told The Hubby if one of the contestants was Filipino, he would probably ask for more!

Balut is boiled unhatched duck egg that has been allowed to develop for about 15 to 17 days. The nearly developed embryo is what most people, especially foreigners, abhor as it does seem cruel to cook and eat them. Okay, it's abortion, if you really want to be blunt. But if it offers some consolation, balut is mass produced artificially by an incubator so we can stop imaging eggs were forcefully taken from the mother ducks while they were sitting on them.

Foreigner friends who visit are oftentimes challenged into eating this notoriously popular Filipino delicacy, much to their dismay (and our delight). We often say "You've never really been to Philippines unless you eat balut'. How mischievous!

Before we invite any Tom, Dick or Harry to try Balut, I think it's only but proper to orient them on how to eat it. Do you agree?

HOW TO EAT BALUT (Don't continue if you were a duck in your past life):

1. Crack a small opening on one end of the egg. Take a peek. Oops, no duck yet! Are you excited?

2. Sip the small pool of broth inside and savor the delicious taste of duck's amniotic fluid.

3. Remove more shells around the crack to reveal more of the egg's contents. Some prefer to start eating whatever is exposed from the shell, be it the yolk or the duckling. Don't forget to sprinkle with salt (or pour a little vinegar).

4. Others prefer to remove all the shells and expose the entire egg. This way, the eater can see all the 'components' and probably avoid the duck (why don't you just eat hard boiled egg?).

Without the shell , the entire balut is naked and exposed. The duck fetus is almost always noticeable, and depending on its size, all the usual body parts are visible. Sometimes you can trace the runny texture of the feathers in your tongue or feel the crunch of the beak between your teeth.

5. For the adventurous but wise balut-munchers, the only way to eat it is cover their eyes and pop the entire thing into their mouth (minus the white hard part or bato). Yum!

Trivia: Balut is rich in protein but also high in cholesterol. It is believed to be an aphrodisiac and is sold at night.

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