Eating balut in the Philippines

balut egg

Balut is perhaps the Philippines most notorious street food. It’s an duck egg that’s intentionally unpasteurized to create a fertilized embryo inside it. You can get a near fully formed chick if you’re lucky – complete with beak, feathers and other features you’ll normally associate with a duck.

Well, a duck to be anyway, since it’s been boiled, it’s never going to hatch. ;)

balut duck egg embryo

Balut is also known for it’s eww factor with an almost ridiculous aversion bordering on stereotypical squeamishness.

I think there was a Fear Factor episode where the final contestants backed out from eating it. I honestly don’t get what all the fuss is all about – it’s just an egg…with a duck as a bonus. Heh.

cooking balut

I managed to get one that has a relatively intact and grown chick inside, complete with a beak and feathers. I reckon that’s the best kind – crunchy and well, feathery. smirk

balut duck embryo

The balut is kept in local cardboard insulated wood buckets and wrapped in layers of cloth to keep them warm – it’s quite nasty if you eat it cold coz part of the goodness of balut is the broth that comes out of the egg.

balut salt

The street venders sell it with a twist of salt in a conical newspaper wrapping – I got 2 balut eggs for 50 pesos (about RM 4). You’re supposed to eat it by cracking open the top of the balut egg, adding salt and slurping out the delicious juices before eating it.

I ate the first one without salt to get a more unadulterated experience and the second one with salt on the advice of the vendor. I preferred eating it without salt, the soup tastes almost exactly like chicken broth, and the half formed duck added a bit of texture and crunchiness to it.

balut

You can see the juices from the balut dripping down my hand in this photo. I’ve eaten balut before, it should have no offensive odors despite a lot of reports claiming otherwise – this is confirmed by a Pinoy friend of mine, who first introduced me to it by bringing it all the way from Manila to Sibu, causing a three day delay before I ate it. Heh.

Here’s a video of me eating it in a hurry (it was a high traffic area) and the associated local bystanders watching with interest and asking if I liked it.

There are a lot of myths associated with balut with claims such as improving male vitality and potency. That will put Pfizer and GSK out of business if it were true. ;) Similar claims have been made on dog meat, snake blood and bull’s penis. I am inclined to disregard all those and just eat it for the experience and taste.

eating balut

How does balut taste like? Well it just tastes like a regular boiled egg, except balut has a rich duck broth and a crunchy texture where the half formed chick resides. Xinxian agreed and added that it felt like she was eating egg shells.

I highly recommend that you try balut if you’re ever in the Philippines – it’s delicious in its own way and it’s one of those things that you have to try when you’re there. :)

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62 thoughts on “Eating balut in the Philippines

    • Heh! It’s awesome stuff and it’s not as bad as it sounds like. :)

      The visible duck in balut is the best part for me. :D

    • Haha! Thanks mate, it’s awesome stuff!

      Great as a snack, except it makes for messy eating, juices dripped all over me first time I cracked open a balut. :)

    • It’s awesome stuff bro!

      They sell it in Pudu too, not sure if they do anymore, but they (there was a stall) used to. :)

      Hope you get to try it soon. Cheers! :D

      • Nice one Irene! :)

        They used to sell it at Pudu too, not sure if they do anymore though. I first had it when a friend got it from a suburb of Manila all the way to Sibu. It was 3 days before I reheated and ate it.

        It wasn’t as good as these “fresh” ones. :D

    • It’s great stuff mate, it’s surprisingly tasty stuff!

      We got it at one of the bus terminals, on the very last day. They’re sold as a snack there, along with deep fried pork skin. :)

    • It’s surprisingly delicious bro! :)

      Give it a try, you might love it! I wish I could bring it back, but it’s just so fragile. :x

      • I agree – balut is quite delicious! :)

        I loved it when I had it in the Philippines and have been trying regional variations since. Cambodia’s poon tia koon (a balut with spices and chilli) tastes the best to me coz of the dipping sauce.

    • I tried the former in Hong Kong – fermented tofu might be quite offensive to the olfactory senses but once you get past the stink, it’s actually quite good.

      …and this coming from someone who doesn’t like tofu. :)

    • Cheers mate! :)

      Balut is just delicious, I love all kinds of eggs, including balut.

      It’s special coz it has tasty juices inside, the duck egg makes it tasty and the the duck embryo gives it texture.

      I totally enjoyed eating it fresh from a stall in Manila. :D

    • It tastes just like a normal duck egg, except with juices and a bit of duck feathers and such inside. Heh.

      Give it a try next time?

      It’s not that bad mate, in fact, it’s quite delicious. :)

  1. Oh! I ate the balut when I visited Manila 2 years ago and it was not bad. But I prefer the one that was fried in orange colored flour – they called it kwek kwek : )

    • Nice! I didn’t get to try kwek kwek – I’ll put that on my list of things to eat when I’m in Manila next! :)

      Cheers mate!

  2. HB, my cousin who is half Filipino and Chinese parents are only one who like baluts. Their sold in Asian stores in San Francisco. I see some people freak out over 100 years old eggs also.

    • Thanks bro! :)

      I love to eat exotic food though, so it wasn’t anything particularly nasty to me, I just really wanted to eat it at its source. You should try it, it’s awesome stuff! :D

    • Well, it’s just like duck egg with broth, if you like the taste of duck eggs, you’ll love this!

      Maybe give it a try when you come across it? It’s good stuff! :D

    • Awesome! :)

      I’m looking forward to see what you think of it – some people like it, some people don’t. I loved it! :D

  3. Interesting m8. Dose the bones make it taste all crunchy or is it something else?
    Finny i would try snake if i seen the restaurant had it on the menu but this would take a bit more convincing :/

    • Yeah, it gives it a bit of a crunch, the bones, but it’s the feathers that makes you feel like you’ve…er, gone down on someone with a lot of pubic hair (for a lack of a better description).

      Snake tastes good, it’s like a course – the gall, blood, meat, skin, etc.

      Do check it out if you get the chance mate, would love to hear what you think. :)

  4. wah bring me with you to travel. U always try all the exotic stuff! XD eating Dog meat will make other dogs hate you for 1 week or until the dog scent on you went away. Snake soup is pretty nice. Vietnam style duck egg is more cooked that balut. =)

    • Haha! That’s a myth, dogs doesn’t hate me from eating dog meat. :)

      I’ve never had the Vietnam ones, was concentrating on cobra and dog meat there.

      Sure, I’m always up for it. :D

  5. I worked with a lovely Filipino woman in a cafe a few years ago who mentioned this dish. We were eating the surplus hard-boiled eggs from the huge batch that we cooked every night to make egg-salad. She said something like: “These are good, but do you know what’s better?..”
    “What?”
    “Balut. It’s an egg with a chick inside. It’s delicious.”
    Sadly I’ve been unable to test her assertion. Someday maybe.

    • Heh! Great anecdote. :)

      Yeah, that sounds like an interesting conversation, and I would have to agree with her.

      I would highly recommend it if you come across balut, it’s definitely worth a try.

      Cheers bro!

  6. from my memory and personal knowledge passed down by the old folks…BALUT is not an indigenous Filipino food but the technique was brought to the country by the chinese…it was popularised in the Tagalog region where most of the early chinese who came settled down and do some business…Philippines was hospitable and accommodating to chinese as there was a growing war in the horizon at that time…now that these chinese are well settled and successful in the Philippines, some misguided Phil-chinese are now saying things and condemning their host and adoptive country with the help of their relatives in the mainland…THIS FACT SHOULD BE KNOWN TO ALL CHINESE …both in and out of the Philippines…

    • Interesting! :)

      Thanks for bringing that up, I’ll love to read more about it. I personally haven’t heard of duck embryo eggs in China but then again I didn’t travel to a lot of places, and it’s a huge place.

      I’m Chinese myself – any idea how the name “balut” came about. Etymology of a word can sometimes provide clues e.g. in Malaysia there’s a historical character called Hang Tuah which was very good in martial arts.

      It’s been put out that Hang Tuah is not a Malay native at all but a Chinese trader who settled here that’s well versed in Chinese martial arts, thus the name “Han (for Han Chinese) Tu-ah (his name)”. It was never looked into much though coz of sensitivities.

  7. Wow, reading all the comments in the past, I can’t believe no one is willing to try duck eggs! But then again, I’m Vietnamese, and I grew up eating this AND the fermented bean curd. (Okay not so much with the bean curd but I do like it.) I usually eat duck eggs with salt and pepper mixed with lime and Vietnamese coriander. (GREAT! Now I want some!)

    But seriously though, everyone else is missing out. I guess everyone is too squeamish about it. I would eagerly take this over chicken eggs anytime. :D

    • Yeah, a lot of people are squeamish when it comes to food! :)

      I’m not – I love to eat all sorts of weird and wonderful local stuff from fermented shark to dog meat.

      I like the way Vietnamese and Cambodians eat the balut egg too – had poon tia koon in Siem Reap.

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