Balut — Would you eat Duck Fetus? They eat Balut in the Philippines, and Balut might be the only food I refused my entire trip through Asia.
When I’m traveling, I always want to sample the local food, and I’ll try almost everything. I’ve tried guinea pigs (cuy!) in Peru, grasshoppers and scorpions in Thailand, and 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 Balut, which is a Fetal Duck Egg.
What is Balut? Balut is 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 Balut 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. Balut is often seasoned with a mixture salt, garlic and sometimes vinegar.
Is Balut an outrageous Asian delicacy, or simply classic Pinoy goodness? I’d call Balut 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 of Eating Balut – beak, feathers, and all (this is not me!)
Fight Quest on Discovery Channel featured consumption of balut 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.