Almost every culture has food that raises the odd eyebrow or is considered just plain gross. We bring you Balut (also spelled Balot).
So, what is Balut? Well, it’s a hard-boiled duck egg. Sounds innocent right? Well said egg is fertilized and then allowed to develop for up to 20 weeks. And that’s when you eat it.
At 20 weeks the duck had developed body parts, like eyes, beaks and indeed feathers. Is your mouth watering yet?
In fact, balut can be found throughout Asia. I’ve personally had it in Vietnam, and China, but in the Philippines, they take fertilized duck egg very seriously.
You will find it on almost every street corner, anywhere that has street food in the Philippines, and from vendors pushing about their food trucks.
In many ways it’s sad people get so grossed out, and that it’s considered “exotic”. In fact, it is pretty damned delicious.
How do you eat balut?
You crack the egg, take off the top, add salt and vinegar, and then drink the juice like a shot. That’s right a shot of duck fluid.
What does balut taste like?
Heard the chicken and the egg thing? It’s halfway between a chicken and an egg, but it’s a duck (I’m confusing myself now).
Not all Filipinos eat balut, but most do, and it tends to be an “after sundown” thing. It’s said it’s because it looks so bad (and thus needs to be unseen). I have a different theory. Pizza, kebab, chips. Every country needs a late-night drunk food. The Philippines has balut!
Oh, and of course it’s an aphrodisiac! I personally can’t say if it works for that, or not as I’ve usually had a drink when I eat it. As usual, I digress. Ironically balut can, therefore, be found in most red-light districts, such as Angeles.
Oh and if the duck were not already the most unlucky animal in the Philippines, another delicacy is 2-day old duck! This can be tried in Sagada. It is quite chewy and spicy!
Now as you might imagine from our description so far, balut tends to be a working-class dish of the people (it usually costs less than 50 cents), but (some) upscale restaurants are trying to put a new take on the dish.
Thankfully though, and whilst the masses still view it as being a bit disgusting, we are yet to see the gentrification of balut.
But who knows? They’ve tried to gentrify Pagpag, so anything is possible.
The street guy suggests getting in before the beatniks turn it into a superfood.
Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.