In this, the third and latest installment of Adventures in Food and Drink, we examine the balut egg. In the Philippines, this innocent-looking duck egg is a popular street food, and in our ‘hood we can hear the distinctive call of the balut salesman at all hours. It starts on a medium tone for “Ba” then crescendos and raises in pitch for the extended “luuut!” You — and many Filipinos — come running from your home to eat some balut.
So you talk with the balut salesman, who probably is riding a bike with a big metal pot attached to it, and realize that you aren’t going to get a better deal than 12 pesos an egg — the salesman pockets a peso in profit from the deal. This ends up being about a quarter per egg, and each egg comes with some salt and vinegar to pour into your egg when you open it. But what’s inside is not a normal hardboiled egg. Skip past the jump to find out what’s inside the prized Easter egg.
It’s a duck embryo! Yes, you are about to dine on — at least if you are in the Philippines — 12 to 14 day old duck embryo. (If you were in Vietnam instead, you’d be feasting on 22 day old embryo.) You pour some salt and vinegar into the hole on the top of the egg, and then you suck out the juice surrounding the embryo. As you peel away the rest of the shell, you notice some bone is forming in parts with a texture more like seitan than egg. There’s definitely a beak right there. The beginning of some feathers up on that part. Yum. You’ve just impressed your Filipino friends, but you also just ate a near-baby duck. (Of course, that means the would-be duck, umm, ate it, before it had to suffer the fate of the one-day-old chickens that are a popular, if rarer, grilled food.) As always, serve with cold San Miguel.
Don shows you the inside of the egg.