May 19, 2019

Here’s All You Need to Know About Eating Balut in the Philippines

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  • They say a trip to the Philippines won’t be complete without trying the popular balut—but there’s more to it than your friend daring you to try exotic food, as it has long been known as an important part of Filipino culture.

    As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most common street foods in the country.

    What is Balut?

    Balut (pronounced as bah-loot) is a two to three-week-old duck egg boiled for about 30 minutes. What makes it different from the other boiled eggs is that you can actually see a semi-developed embryo inside.

    The younger the egg the better it is for some people because it’s more tender compared to a three-week-old egg.

    Historical and Cultural Background


    Duck farm in Pateros IMAGE Joey Razon via Philippine News Agency 

    In the Philippines, Pateros City has a reputation for providing the best balut in the country. This is because the municipality used to have a lot of duck farms until it dwindled due to environmental issues.

    Although there is no certain scientific proof, Balut is believed to be an aphrodisiac, which may be the reason you’ll mostly see it being sold at night. There are even those who believe it’s an effective hangover food after a night of alcohol.

    It’s pretty bizarre if you ask us because eating balut is basically consuming a dead duckling. It is actually still quite repulsive to some Filipinos—probably more than you can imagine. Nonetheless, it’s undoubtedly one of the favorite snacks of all the night owls out there.

    How to eat

    To eat balut, first, locate the narrow part of the egg, then crack it open until you can peel off a very small hole.

    Be careful not to spill the soup or broth (locally known as sabaw) as it’s one of the tastiest parts. Sip it carefully until you finish, then you may crack the rest of the egg open to savor the rest. You may also sprinkle some salt to taste. Some like it with vinegar.

    The yolk, on the other hand, may be the favorite because it looks like a regular egg yolk, except that it’s a bit slimy on the outside.

    The tricky part here is the duckling (“sisiw“) as it’s often referred to as gross as you can actually see the underdeveloped eyes, feather, and beak. Its texture will somehow remind you of eating canned sardines. Some people opt to not eat it, while some just close their eyes and go for the dare.

    Finally, the bottom part is the white one known as bato (or stone in English), which is literally the hard part of balut. It somehow has the texture of a pencil eraser.

    Balut is best eaten when it’s warm, so better munch on it at once. Remember to wash before eating as you really have to use your bare hands.

    It’s quite normal to feel the need to vomit while eating balut, however, if you really can’t stomach its taste or texture, you can ask the balut vendor for penoy (pronounced as peh-noy) as an alternative. It’s also a duck egg but all yolk parts.

    Where to buy

    Just walk around Manila (except of course the central business district) and you can see sidewalk vendors, wet markets, or stalls with baskets holding balut.

    Vendors also roam around residential areas while shouting “baloooot!” with their cloth-covered baskets. You can expect this at night, again, rooting from the fact that it’s known as an aphrodisiac. Balut typically costs Php 15, but there may be some offering higher prices.

    Would you try eating balut? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!

    Source: CNN, BusinessWorld, Philippine News Agency
    Written by Yana Bautista
    Images by Faye Almazan

    Recent Comments

    Is balut allowed in the airport? Can it last three days travel time?

    2 months ago
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