Balut

This is not something you get to try everyday, and not for the squeamish (…certain assumptions about cultural eating habits assumed). The family was shopping for greens at the local Asian market, and picked up this “Baby Duck Egg” for 79 cents in the impulse-buy section near the cash register. In hindsight research, this Asian delicacy is typically eaten out of the shell, hard boiled, as a street food. However, it can be fried or scrambled (typically the younger version is scrambled, according to Wiki). Yes it is an embryonic duck. And no, it does not taste like chicken. Not quite.

The egg itself is 1.5 to 2 times the size of a regular chicken egg. You can hear something solid rattling around in there when you shake it. When cracked I was surprised at the sheer size of the yolk. Easily 2/3 or more of the volume was yolk, unlike a unfertilized chicken egg. Also lots of red veins around the yolk and something placental that one is not accustomed to seeing in eggs you eat (in the narrow Western view of edible…). Not to mention the fully formed baby duck. I fried it up in a pan with olive oil. There’s something more-cooked about the idea of sizzling hot oil, than mere boiling. I did break the yolk but did not really scramble it much. Probably a mistake – the whites by themselves turned rock hard when cooked. Like plastic. Salt & pepper to taste.

Everyone in the family, except the littlest, tried some. I would describe it as similar to the flavor of chicken egg, just stronger. The duck mixed in was somewhat like sauteed chicken livers. If prepared better – with more spices and perhaps some onions, and some chopped something or other, this could make a tasty omelette. Better yet, find some actual recipes – it’s the new haute-cuisine in Manila. I would not mind giving hard-boiled Balut street-style a try, if only to have expanded my horizons. Besides, it’s believed to be an aphrodisiac.

Next week: Squid jerky.

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