Balut refers to fertilised duck eggs which are considered street food in the Philippines, and other parts of South East Asia.
I’d been to Manila a number of times then, way back in 2010, and each time, when my clients asked if I’d tried balut, I’d reply “Next time!”
It was my fourth, and likely last trip to the Philippines, and I could not say No anymore, when the client suggested they throw a farewell dinner at a local Filipino restaurant, so I bit the bullet, I did it…
I ate balut.
and I’m proud to say…
I didn’t puke. Yay me!
Granted, I didn’t have the balut out of the shell, freshly bought from a hawker on the street. Instead the balut I ate was in an appetiser called Balut ala pobre – balut cooked with garlic, oyster sauce and spring onions. Otherwise known as balut prettied up. But it’s a real fine line between balut out of the shell and balut prettied up, and I say this because balut prettied up still had feathers.
But, I still I ate it. Bleargh!
But that night – the night I finally tasted this must-try food item whenever you’re in the Philippines – I also ate a whole bunch of other Filipino cuisine – pork, chicken and bangus sisig (not bad), pinakbet (quite delicious), garlic kangkong (something familiar to my Malaysian taste buds), green mango with bagoong (quite yummy), sinigang na baboy (also yummy), pancit molo (merely dumpling soup), crispy fried canton noodles and a huge bowl of rice. And after all that rich Filipino cuisine, well, the taste of feathers and a little bit of beak, sort of faded in to the background (Phew!).
Naturally, my Filipino friends informed me that I sort of cheated by eating balut prepared as a stir fry, and that the only way I can boast about eating the infamous fertilised duck egg, is to eat the fertilised duck egg the way its meant to be eaten – get it from a hawker on the street, crack open the top, add the seasonings e.g. vinegar, chili pepper, something strong that can mask the taste of feathers, ill-formed feet and beak, and slurp the contents into your body.
My reply to my Filipino friends – I ate balut, so there!
Also, if you have some balut lying around and want to make balut ala pobre, here’s a recipe. Anyone here (besides me) ever ate balut or any other type of fertilised duck egg???