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! :)
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.
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!
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.
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. :)
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!
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. :)