Eating pong tia koon – Cambodian balut!

duck-embryo

Pong tia koon is the Cambodian version of balut. It’s simply a fertilized duck embryo which adds a lot to the eww factor for a lot of people. We were in Siem Reap and saw a street vendor selling it – that’s the only way to eat pong tia koon! :)

eating balut cambodia

I’ve eaten balut in the Philippines before. On the streets of Manila, eating fertilized duck embryo is just a simple matter – you crack open the balut, suck out the juices and get a twist of salt to go with the egg. It’s just that simple.

cambodian balut

However, the process of eating pong tia koon is quite complex in Cambodia. Cambodians have a wide variety of condiments to add to the fertilized duck embryo before it’s ready to eat. There’s almost a ritualized feel to it. It’s balut, Khmer style! smirk

eating pong tia koon

The egg is cracked into a plate, with the embryo and juices flowing freely. Fine salt and black pepper powder is added to it. Fresh lime is cut while a mixture of garlic slices and chilli is liberally poured into the plate and Cambodian mint (laksa leaves) sprinkled before it’s suitable to be served.

cambodia balut

It’s delicious! I found the Khmer style of serving balut to be extremely tasty! I ordered 3 pong tia koon and it left me wanting more. It’s just 1,000 KHR (0.25 USD) per egg. The mixture of spices goes very well with the egg and also the tiny duck inside. I told Ling it just tastes like chicken soup and got her to eat some so she’s experienced eating balut before. :)

pong tia koon

The Cambodian pong tia koon is a lot more intense in some ways than balut in the Philippines – they keep the duck longer (19 days compared to 17 days) so you can see a mature chick inside. It’s fully recognizable as a baby duck!

balut developed chick

There’s a head staring back at you with huge eyes, a long neck, webbed feet. You can even see the rib cage of the baby duck! It’s delicious though – the sweet, sour and spicy condiments make this a truly delicious dish that you’ll crave for instead of something to eat just to experience. :)

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36 thoughts on “Eating pong tia koon – Cambodian balut!

    • It tastes good though! :)

      It’s like chicken (or duck) soup. This actually tastes great compared to the balut in the Philippines due to the variety of condiments they use.

      It just looks disgusting coz the chick is more mature compared to the Philippines – 19 days versus 17 days.

  1. EWWWW, i don’t think i will ever eat that, how does it tastes like i wonder? chicken soup? but it looks very mushy and soft wor, yerrrrr

    • Well, perhaps duck soup would describe it better since it’s a duck embryo after all. ;)

      It’s not soft though, at least not the embryo – the duck has bones and it’s crunchy, but it’s edible.

      The balut in the Philippines is just something you eat to experience IMHO, while the pong tia koon in Cambodia is something which actually tastes good!

    • I think the balut in Manila doesn’t taste quite as good. :)

      I’ve eaten both versions – the Cambodian one is better since they make a ritual out of it with the delicious condiments.

      Pong tia koon is actually quite tasty! They also let the duck embryo mature longer – 19 days in Cambodia compared to 17 days in the Philippines.

    • Yup, you’re supposed to eat everything! :)

      My girlfriend was a bit apprehensive but I fed her some of the mature chick, at least she’s tried it.

      Cambodia’s pong tia koon is much tastier than balut from the Philippines due to the condiments. It’s really appetizing, if you get over the fact that it’s a duck embryo.

  2. cool! i just got back from siem reap a few weeks ago…found the food to be quite bland…was hunting high and low for good street food without much luck though. whereabouts in siem reap did u find this and was it common?

    • Yeah, we found that a lot of places was really commercialized coz of the tourist trade. :x

      Thus we went to the street vendors where the locals eat.

      I know we got charged the same prices coz I noticed how much the locals pay before ordering. Haha!

      The street vendors only come out around evening in the Old Market – they can be seen around the place, beside the street, but interestingly only in the evenings for a couple of hours.

      • thats good to know. will check it out the next time im there. Night Market and Old Market are two different things right? I keep getting confused when i see the neon signs, thinking they r the same. The only street vendors i saw r the ones selling crepes though…i guess i didn’t look hard enough.

        • Hey there mate! :)

          It’s the same thing (or at least close enough to make no difference). The Old Market (Psah Chas) is next to Pub Street and the Night Market. They’re within a stone’s throw away and I think some shops even interlap!

          The street vendors is a whole strange different thing altogether – they only seem to come out for a couple of hours on the evenings. Cheers!

    • Yup!

      …and it’s delicious! :)

      It’s totally unlike balut in the Philippines. Fertilized duck embryo in Cambodia is delicious due to the sweet and sour condiments they put into pong tia koon. You’ll be surprised at how appetizing it is!

    • I think we were lucky for this one buddy! :)

      We just saw a woman (pictured above – she’s a customer) drinking tea after eating pong tia koon. She’s *instrumental* to helping us order fertilized duck embryo coz the vendor doesn’t understand a single word of English!!!

      We talked to the woman, who translated for us, told us how much it was and set everything up so we could eat. :D

  3. OMG! I wanna try this! I have eaten balut in Manila and although I would not say I love it, I find it quite OK. Wonder how will this Cambodian balut taste like! : )

    • Yup, me too, I’ve eaten balut in Manila and found that it’s alright, but more for the experience than anything.

      Cambodian balut on the other hand is truly delicious!

      The sweet and sour condiments makes me salivate just thinking about it. It’s an appetizing dish that I’m craving for now. :D

    • Yup, it has it’s share of local street food. :)

      Pong tia koon was a great find coz the vendor couldn’t speak a word of English so it’s a good thing the woman (pictured in second photo) was there to translate – she’s a customer.

      It’s also delicious, and the vendor took a long time to make the fertilized duck embryo dish – it’s like a ritual – cracking the egg into a plate, adding salt, pepper, garlic and spices, laksa leaves etc.

      Appetizing! :D

    • Heh! Yeah, it puts some people off but it’s delicious! :)

      I’m always up for authentic local food.

      I’ve never had Cambodian style balut – it’s the best I’ve had so far!

  4. HB, you put Andrew Zimmer to shame. I don’t think he would eat this dish in Cambodia. Anthony Bourdain might look at it and walk away also.

    • Heh! I doubt it, Andrew Zimmern has eaten some really interesting stuff like a fermented goat blood dish from a tribe in Africa (or something like that). :)

  5. Mayday Mayday …. 2 things I will nv put in my mouth. 1) Pungent tauhu 2) balut.

    bhoy!! u can rival tony bourdain.

    • Haha! I have no qualms with eating all these interesting food! :)

      I love trying the local cuisine, no matter how weird it is. I’m a huge fan of exotic eats too.

      Cheers bro!

    • It’s the same thing as eating a fully grown duck or an egg though. No difference. :)

      It’s a bit gross for some people though.

      Yup, it’s a bit hard to find, I was very lucky to bump into this vendor. She doesn’t speak a word of English, had to get one of the customers (lady in photo #2) to translate.

  6. Oh gawd! I read thru the posts without looking at the pic initially. That’s the only way I can make myself read through this and thought, “Hey, it’s not too bad!” and then I looked at the pictures. The first and the last pic just made my legs go jelly.. The duck is REAL! OMG! *faint*

    • Yeah, it’s not too bad – it’s delicious actually! :)

      Unlike balut, which isn’t tasty per se, pong tia koon is actually mouth watering coz of the condiments. It’s so yummy I was surprised.

      The Khmer style of doing it is the best I’ve eaten so far.

      Haha! Yeah, of course the duck is real, it’s a fertilized duck embryo. :D

    • Well, I wouldn’t call it hot – the eggs themselves are hot but not the condiments. :)

      The fertilized duck egg embryo is still warm when they served it coz they fished it out of a heating pot so it tastes like hot duck soup. Haha!

      However, the garlic and chilli mixture and laksa leaves aren’t hot, but the entire dish is semi warm, just not the kind of warm you associate with a cooked dish.

      It’s delicious! Check it out if you come across it! Cheers! :D

    • Yup, at least you ate some, including the duck which I put in the third spoonful. :)

      The condiments make pong tia koon really good! I think you won’t want to eat balut after this coz the way it’s served in the Philippines is basic and totally unlike the Khmer style of eating fertilized duck embryo.

      I prefer the Cambodian one too – it’s delicious! :D

    • Yup, it’s really awesome stuff! :)

      I’ve had balut in the Philippines and pong tia koon in Siem Riep (both fertilized duck embryo but the Cambodians leave it 2 days longer) and the latter tastes a lot better!

      There’s not much taste to balut, a lot of people just eat it for the experience.

      Pong tia koon is like a ceremony, and it’s delicious from the condiments! :D

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