Its not just a egg

November 25, 2007 on 9:12 pm | In Offal | Comments

A few weeks ago, my wife’s friend Debra said she had a true delicacy for me to try from the Phillipines. I said I couldn’t wait. So last week I go into my fridge and there is this egg carton there for me to take to work, when I get to work I open the carton to find this:

balut in egg carton

After a closer inspection and I flipped the eggs over I find a note written on the shell for me.

balut message

So who can resist such a great prophecy, so I crack the egg and get ready to dig in and find this.

cracked balut egg

As hard as I tried I couldn’t get it down, and I can eat almost anything thrown my way. I guess the prophecy won’t come true. Darn. But to be serious this is a huge undertaking for someone who has never had anything like it. The crunch of the bones and the tickle of the feathers are hard to get used to.I know this is a common dish in many countries but for me it was way over the line. Sorry Debra– I couldn’t do it.

31 Responses to “Its not just a egg”

  1. Bill Burge says:

    My ex fiance was Filipina and her family always tried to get me to eat balut under the guise that I couldn’t marry in if I didn’t eat one.

    But holy shit, that pic is fucking rough. Their’s were never that developed and they’d always hard boil them leaving them looking a little more like this:

    Needless to say I got myself a nice Midwestern white girl on my next go round — hairy balls be damned.

  2. Roberto N. says:

    I had read about these recently, and there’s a video of Tony Bourdain downing one hard boiled balut somewhere… I can eat a lot of things but I don’t think I could handle these.

  3. Mike says:

    I used to live in Vietnam and a couple years back, a local friend took me out and bought me balut… though in Vietnam, the word is Trung Vit Lon. Had I purchased it myself, I might have given it a curious bite but it was a generous offer from him, so I finished the whole egg, including the juice that settles at the bottom of your bowl. It took another friend of mine over 30 minutes to finish his. I’ll eat most anything once but I think Trung Vit Lon was the most difficult food to get down of all I’ve tried. One question though, did that fully formed duck come out of your egg?! My egg and all I’ve seen are fertized but the duck isn’t so fully formed. I remember the little crunch of the beak and the legs but I don’t recall a baby duck popping out of my egg.

  4. [...] 1:02 pm Filed under: Food, Southeast Asia My favorite Next Iron Chef contestant Chef Cosentino tries Balut (known as Trung Vit Lon in Vietnam). I gave fertilized duck egg a go back in 2001. Bought for me by [...]

  5. [...] for the faint of heart I offer no pics here. So brace yourself if you dar, and have a look at the pics on [...]

  6. Wow. That’s some seriously rough stuff. I saw Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern give balut a go on TV, but those were both hard-boiled. Not sure I could get it down, either.

  7. Rory says:

    Scary stuff. I first read about Balut over at Deep End Dining, and he had similar repulsion despite eating a lot of crazy stuff:

    For those in SF who are brave, I have seen balut at the Alemany farmer’s market. When I saw the word “balut” I walked past quickly, trying not to remember the pictures from the Deep End Dining post, still painfully etched in my mind long after reading it.

  8. Huy says:

    Dude, us Viets eat Trung Vit Lon like it’s going out of style. Hard-boiled for about 12-15 minutes. Seriously, if you can get over the fact that it’s a nearly full-grown duck fetus, it is awesome beer food. The broth is sweet and delicious. The chick and its bones are hardly as crunchy or gross as you might think. If you get a really old one, I must admit they can be a little too hairy, so the squeamish need not apply. If you get one that’s not days from hatching, you’re fine. The chick isn’t even my favorite part. If you dare try it (with an open mind) you will fall in love with the yolk. It is creamy, moist and tasty — nothing like a starchy, dry, flavorless boiled chicken egg yolk. We eat it with salt and pepper and a Viet herb call Rau Ram. I also like to throw a little Tabasco on it to add a little spice. Wash it down with a nice beer?? Yum!

  9. Chad Galiano says:

    That picture is pretty rough. I cannot believe I can actually say that there was something I ate that you couldn’t. It didn’t look quite that bad though, and you have to boil it for 20 minutes or so. I ate it once in Boston, then a while later in New Orleans. The second time was to be sure that I didn’t like it the first time. I didn’t. It was freaking nasty and had a horrible taste that cannot be compared to anything else.
    I just saw the pig clip on Modern Marvels by coincidence. That was cool. I wish I could do a stage with you at your restaurant. What an education.

  10. Brown Midwest Gal says:

    “Needless to say I got myself a nice Midwestern white girl on my next go round — hairy balls be damned.”

    Oh dear. Couldn’t help recoiling at the color comment there.

    Re: Balut

    That shot looked like a VERY developed one. There are some you can buy without the full beak and feathers action. Still, it is an acquired taste – many Filipinos can’t eat it. Or, they have it after so many pulls from the San Miguel bottle.

    You might like dinuguan:

  11. Phil says:

    Ugh. That was nasty. I wouldn’t pet it, let alone eat it. You’re a brave man, Chris.

    Bourdain had it in a Vietnamese egg’s nest soup if I remember correctly. And when he got to the beak, he lost interest in the whole thing. He said the nest was the best part. That was the episode when I realized that he seriously earned his money.

    And to Tony’s credit, he didn’t say “This is great. How delicious.” If it sucks, he’ll let you know.

  12. Marvin says:

    I’m Filipino and haven’t had the pleasure of balut. I don’t think I will ever be able to muster up the courage to try it, especially after seeing that picture. I’ve never seen a balut that developed before. Wow.

    btw Chris, I ordered the t-shirt from this site a few days ago and received it very quickly. Best shirt ever.

  13. Bill Burge says:

    “Oh dear. Couldn’t help recoiling at the color comment there.”

    Lighten up.

    If I were racist I certainly wouldn’t have been engaged to a Filipina woman after 4 years of dating.

    I didn’t mean anything by my comment, and was only using it as the example of the typical white Midwesterner being noticeably more sheltered about their food choices.

  14. Phil says:

    True Bill. It’s often been said (by me as well) that if you go to markets in predominantly Mexican or Asian neighborhoods, finding pork shoulders and other “tougher and undesirable” cuts of meat isn’t as easy as is in the “whitey” markets closer to where I live (and yes, I’m very white). They’re the first things to go in those neighborhoods, because they know how to cook that stuff.

    It’s not a race thing, it’s a culture thing. Let’s not get carried away. I love our melting pot of a country, and I’m grateful that we’re all learning how to finally cook this stuff. It’s delicious.

  15. shaun says:

    I tried one of those a while back. we had got ‘em into the restaurant I was working at and we all were daring each other to chow down till me, and another line cook took the challenge. holy shit that first bite was murder. the word “texture” doesn’t cut it here, more like you can see what’s in your mouth as you chew. god. never again.

  16. Holly says:

    Wow. I’m a duck hunter, so I kill cute little ducks (or try to) all the time when they’re in season. But this balut is a bit much for me – not sure I’d be up for that. Fortunately, I have no need for hairy balls, so I’m thinking I’m exempt from this challenge, right?

  17. ts says:

    Try penoy!
    It doesn’t have a “full-grown” duck like in your picture.

    I never have eaten balut myself, just “penoy”. And I never did eat the actual “duck part.” The broth is the best part. Boil the suckers. Crack the top open, put some salt in, and drink the broth. Then open the egg, and eat the yolk with some salt. I gave the “duck” to others.


  18. DCchef says:

    I’m actually anxious to give Balut a shot, though I was under the distinct impression the duck wasn’t quite that size. Still though, I’ve only just started trying more and more offal, and here I thought I was being adventurous when I tried calfs brain. There’s always a bigger fish, I guess.

  19. veron says:

    – sorry if this double-posts wordpress ate my earlier one.

    uh.. I think you were supposed to boil it in its shell. I’ve only eaten the embryo once. I usually stick to the penoys since I’m really after the yummy broth more than anything else.

  20. auco says:

    Balut is hardly the terror you find it to be if you eat it properly.

    I’ve been eating it since I was three.

    Cracking it open and cooking it that way is not the proper way to do it and it can make even the manliest man cry.

    However, hard boiling it, cracking the hollow end of the shell and sprinkling in a little salt pepper and lime juice and eating it straight up with a spoon… that’s a real treat.

    I’ve never had a crunchy one btw. A real balut farmer knows better.

  21. Kevin says:

    I’m with you on this one. I would most definitely pass. I’m glad to see you have limits too.

  22. Jeffje says:

    there’s a vendor that sells live chickens and balut (duck and chicken, which i’m told is flavorless) at the UN Plaza and Alemany farmers’ markets. it looks like your balut went a little bit too long – the fetuses are usually eaten less-developed.

    personally, i haven’t been too impressed the couple of times i’ve tried them. the broth at the large end of the egg is pretty tasty, but the rest just tastes like…duck and eggs, with a hint of liver.

  23. Joy says:

    I have never seen or eaten balut as mature as that. Even I, a Filipino, think that is damn nasty.

  24. rekockulous says:

    Balut is delicious…of course, I grew up with it. When I was around the age of 7 I started eating them and I found that they were delicious; succulent and aromatic. It really depends on how well the duck was fermented and in what state the duck is in. If they are a bit too old, the broth would be bland and the yolk would lack it’s full taste.

    There was a time in my early teens when I found it putrid to eat balut. I tried it once again a couple of years back. I tried eating it differently. Grabbed some mint leaves, salt and pepper, and scooped some duck with yolk with a spoon. Ate all those at once and I was reunited with it once again. But more importantly, it’s a health concern… that amount of cholesterol and calories in one egg is astounding. Try to limit yourself if you can. I however, can eat about 6 in one sitting. Delicious!

  25. Annalynn says:

    I was born and raised in the Phils till I was 8 years old. As a kid, balut was one of my favorite things. It has a unique flavor for sure. However, given that I’ve eaten my fair share of balut, I’ve never eaten one as fully developed as that photo above displays.

    My guess is that whoever imports or makes the balut here pales in comparison to the street vendors in the Philippines.

    If you ever take a trip to Phils, perhaps you’ll be more inclined to try it then. If not, no big deal, Phils is also known for the most delicious mangoes and pineapples. I’m sure you can gorge on that. (^_^)

  26. MJ says:

    Sorry for your experience there. The one you (didn’t) have was way past its prime, and the store where you bought it should know. It’s a pity because it tastes very good. Balut was one of my favorite things to eat as a child, and I never had feathers or beak. Perhaps going to a Filipino store (as opposed to just an Asian one) and asking about their baluts’ freshness would be the way to go?

  27. Keith says:

    Nice…great post

  28. chad says:

    But isn’t it amusing to remember that you were trying to eat raw balut and be further horrified beyong your adventures?

    The egg is certainly well-developed. However, balut is almost never refrigerated raw; it is cooked as soon as possible. That is one messed-up photo even for balut eater standards. Brrr.

  29. I enjoyed your site and will visit often, thanks.

  30. jon w says:

    this is a late comment but reading this brought back memories! I was introduced to this while working in Laos and Vietnam. Ideal age for duck eggs is 12-14 days, chickens slightly different I believe. Egg, liver and duck soup is about the taste I remember, great with a pinch of salt, pepper and lime. I beat my vietnamese counterpart by eating 14 while he stopped at 12….

  31. Disgusting says:

    Oh my god – this is nasty and cruel.

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