Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My First Balut

Eggs are a very popular food all over the world. Before I left the states, I never thought eggs were a particularly exciting food, but as I mentioned before, it's a whole nother story over here in Asia.

In Taiwan, you can't go anywhere without seeing tea eggs which are just hard boiled chicken eggs stewed in a dark sauce to give it a little extra flavour.
Here in Cambodia, it is duck eggs that are ubiquitous. Everywhere you go, you can see bowls of cooked eggs for sale - usually sitting on top of a steamer to keep warm.
After a couple of days in Cambodia, I discovered that these eggs are not just regular hard boiled eggs. They are fertilized duck eggs and they already have a little chick growing inside. Or at least, it was growing.... until someone took it from it's momma duck and cooked it!

I didn't have the guts to try this thing out on my own, but with my friends in tow, I was ready to try anything - so on our first night together, I convinced Clair to buy one so the 4 of us girls could try it out together.

The egg was served on a little plate with a lime, some leaves which I believe were basil (although we didn't use them), and a mixture of salt and pepper. After we bought the egg, the woman who sold it to us tapped on it with a little spoon to crack it open for us.
From here Meg took charge and began to break off the shell.
Usually the first step in eating this kind of egg is to suck out the juices that surround the chick, but once we saw what was inside, none of us were volunteering to suck anything out of it... so we skipped that step.
What we found inside was a black slimy mass unrecognizable as anything in particular. But once Meg began to dig around a bit in there, I was pretty sure I saw something that looked like a head and beak.
The chick was not completely formed yet, so it was very soft and mushy. No bones or tissues were solid enough to hold it together in any recognizable form.

After squeezing the lemon over the egg, Meg the Brave was the first take a bite.
I couldn't quite bring myself to try the duck, so my first bite was from the egg yolk. It looked somewhat questionable - there were some blood vessels and other goop hanging off of it - but it tasted just like a hard boiled egg yolk from any old chicken egg. Pretty tasty in fact.
 So after successfully eating the yolk, I manned up and tried the duck.
For all of the fuss, I have to say it was a bit anti-climatic. It didn't really taste like anything - mostly it tasted like the lemon we squirted on it. There was no other distinct taste that I could really describe. It was warm, mushy, and some parts of it were pretty slimy. But I think if you ate the little chick at the same time as the yolk, it would actually be a nice mix of textures.

After Meg and I tried it, Clair and Renee had to also - although no one was really excited about the idea of it.
In addition to the yolk and the chick, there was a little round white ball in the egg. I'm not sure what it's purpose or function is, but it was the size and texture of a rubber bouncy ball. Eating it was literally like taking a bite out of a superball. It was dry, had no flavor, and biting into it was like slicing into a piece of a rubber. We split it into 4 pieces and each took a bite.
All in all, I'd say the fetal duck egg (or balut) wasn't too bad. Like most things, the idea of it is much worse than the actual act of eating it. If I could get over the mental hurdle of it all - the idea of eating a duck fetus - I think it's a treat I could actually grow to enjoy. But, that's a pretty big hurdle to surmount, and I don't see myself snacking on one of these again any time soon! 


  1. wow well done girls! I've seen them on travel tv programs, u guys were pretty gutsy

  2. Nasty! ha. The pictures crack me up, though - so funny.