If you’ve ever walked through the streets in the Philippines (or watched such videos online), you’ve likely noticed people cracking eggshells, slurping, and eating something that looks like an egg.
Except, it’s not an egg, but a balut.
Balut is a celebrated street food in the Philippines and neighboring regions.
It is rich in protein, and many locals consume it as a snack or breakfast.
After all, it is pretty filling.
Now, what does balut taste like, and how can you prepare it? Let’s look deeper into this popular Filipino treat and ready your taste buds before you taste it.
What is Balut?
Balut refers to partially fertilized duck eggs steamed/boiled for about 30 minutes and eaten directly from the shell.
The eggs are incubated for anywhere between 14 to 21 days before using them to make balut.
The longer you fertilize the eggs, the more developed the embryo will appear in your balut.
So, it will likely contain the visible features of a half-developed bird.
The traditional way to eat a balut is to crack the rounder end of the egg, which contains an air cell and helps easy shell removal.
Then, you remove the membrane covering, slurp the juice inside, remove the remaining shell, and munch on the embryo.
When you crack open the entire shell of a balut, you will notice different colors and textures that are easy to separate.
A soft gray portion contains the developing embryo, and a yellow piece represents the yolk.
The bottom portion of a balut (towards the tapered end of the egg) is white and consists of albumen.
It is usually discarded as people find it too hard to chew.
What Does Balut Taste Like?
Balut tastes like duck eggs cooked in chicken broth.
Its juice/soup is clear, aromatic, and similar to chicken broth but richer in flavor.
Meanwhile, the partially developed embryo tastes like a hard-boiled egg but does not have the dry texture of regular boiled eggs.
As regards texture, balut has a little bit of everything and ranges from soft and crumbly to chewy and hard textures.
If the eggs used in a balut are fertilized for many days, they will also contain bones that are soft and chewable.
You may also find the beak and feathers, but they aren’t fully developed and are soft and chewy.
The firmness of the embryo will depend on its fertilization stage and cooking time.
If you undercook the balut, it will turn out mushy and unpleasant to eat.
While balut is delicious to eat as is, you can use condiments to enhance its eggy flavor and make your meals more enjoyable.
You can think of it as a comforting chicken soup in a mini bowl that improves with the right seasonings.
Compared to regular unfertilized duck eggs, balut has a milder flavor and a complex texture.
It has a slightly meaty aroma and lacks the sulfur-like taste of hard-boiled eggs.
All in all, balut has a fun flavor profile but ranks low on visual appeal.
So, if you’re unfamiliar with the food, we’d recommend focusing more on chewing and avoiding looking at the embryo as much as possible.
How to Eat Balut?
Eating steamed or boiled balut may be boring because it has a limited flavor profile.
So, here are our favorite cooking methods to enhance its taste and find more ways to appreciate this ethnic delight:
- Balut stir-fry: The next time you crack open a balut, slurp only the juice and save the embryo to make a delectable fried dish. Cook it in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce to enrich its taste and enjoy the goodness of Filipino seasonings.
To retain the embryo’s structure, you can coat the balut in corn flour and fry it separately before adding it to the sauce.
- Balut soup: If you enjoy egg soups, you should try making a balut soup; it is a fun way to add more dimension to the fertilized embryo and create more ways to relish soups. You can do this by adding the cooked and shelled balut to a rich soup with plenty of veggies and aromatics.
- Balut tempura: This method is perfect for anyone easily distracted by the embryo’s appearance. You simply need to coat the balut in a tempura batter and serve it with hot sauce or mayonnaise for the best flavor.
Balut may bring about varying opinions, especially from the watchers and not the eaters.
Nonetheless, it is a celebrated Filipino food that takes a unique approach to combining a bird and an egg into one meal.
Despite its not-so-appealing appearance, balut’s interesting taste profile reminds you of chicken soup.
It tastes like eggs, has a complex texture, and has a comforting broth that brings everything together.
You can use creative cooking methods like tempura, stir-frying, and soups to give the balut a deeper flavor or to mask its appearance (if it seems bothersome).