You might have heard tourists describe Balut as “scary,” “gross,” or “strange”, but if you are up to a street food challenge, the balut is probably one of the most famous exotic adventure eats out there, having landed many front-page food & travel features and gameshow cameos. This exotic snack is largely popular in Manila and the rest of the Philippines as a “pulutan” (beer match) or “merienda” (snack) and is also believed to make one’s knees stronger and is a popular aphrodisiac, so put this all-time #1 Filipino exotic food in your bucket list! Read on to find more on how to eat and where to find balut to complete your Pinoy experience.
What is Balut, anyway?
Balut is a tasty Filipino delicacy enclosed in a 16-day- old fertilized duck egg that looks like a typical hard-boiled egg. For those who ask, Balut is not made; it’s developed, and then fertilized. For your additional learning, full-grown duck eggs hatch at around 30 days.
You can enjoy a 16-day- old Balut with a relatively smaller premature duck inside, which sometimes just looks like a dark brown fluffy blob inside. An older Balut is around 20 to 22 days before it is boiled. The duck is bigger and you can see its form. Certified Balut lovers feast on the 22-day- old ones.
Now you’re thinking, do all Filipinos love eating such exotic snack? To be honest, not everyone. It requires a certain liking for taste over appearance. Trust us when we say your experience won’t be complete without it. Balut tastes better than it looks! We suggest you try it on your first day or as early as you can. If you don’t like it, at least you tried once. Just be sure to take that video to show off to your family and friends back home.
How to eat Balut
Although Balut has strikingly similar outside features with a hard-boiled egg, you do not eat it like one – in fact, eating balut is an art that requires a few steps to enjoy.
- Choose the best egg. Although you can’t really tell which one is because you can’t peak through the shell, just try to look for an egg without cracks.
- Crack the egg. Crack a tiny hole at the base of the egg, the rounder part.
- Once you reach the inside you will see a soupy broth brimming to the top. Drink and savor it a bit without the salt or vinegar just so you enjoy its natural flavor.
- Go with it and taste every part of the balut. Usually the first thing you’ll get to taste are the creamy yet firm egg yellow and the rubbery egg white part. Peel the shell bit by bit as you go through eating it.
- There’s a point that you’ll see a small, baby duck inside (the embryo). Eat. The. Embryo. This is the best part! It’s really small and you can swallow it as a whole, but then again, the real experience comes with savoring the tasty flavor. Think of it as if you’re enjoying tofu, just a bit harder.
- During the entire process of eating balut, feel free to sprinkle with salt or add some vinegar to add more aroma and flavor.
Where to Find Balut?
You can find Balut almost anywhere in the metro, especially at night. The mambabalut or balut vendor (the real thing, the original) usually goes around subdivisions at night shouting “Baluuut! Baluuut! Baluuut!”. If you’re in a house in typical streets and villages, it’s impossible not to hear the vendor.
If in case you miss the real thing, another option is to drop by convenient stores found almost in every hundred meters along the main streets of Metro Manila. Another option would be to dine in Filipino restaurants. Usually, restaurants and grills Makati City and other major cities serve Balut.
Balut sold on streets are usually just around P15 each. It’s really cheap and worth trying. However, Balut in restaurants and convenient stores may be a bit pricier, depending on your restaurant of choice.
MNLgo Tip: If you love the experience but hate the thought of eating an embryo, try Penoy – balut’s lesser known brother. Penoy is a fertilized duck egg boiled at 9 days old compared to Balut that’s boiled at 16 days, so the Penoy’s egg is too young that there are no traces of any duck embryo yet. It’s much like eating your usual chicken egg, only this time it’s a duck egg cooked in the same way you would a balut.