One man’s meat they say is another’s poison, this saying could not be truer when it comes to the Asian and Filipino delicacy called Balut. Cooking an egg is quite easy and everyone loves boiled eggs but at the thought of eating a semi-formed cooked duck straight from the shell could be unappetizing to a lot of people. But for Asians and Filipinos, the Balut is a delicacy unlike any other. If you’re still not sure how this delicacy could possibly interest anyone, read on and let’s give you details on what a balut really is, how it can be cooked and how it really tastes.
What is Balut?
The Balut is a developing duck embryo boiled and eaten from the shell. It is not just a growing embryo, it is an egg which has been incubated between 14-21 days. Beyond the ideal, some people prefer the eggs incubated for a longer period such that the feathers and other features of the duck are obviously evident while taking the meal. But even while incubating it for a longer period, timing is critical as there would be no use for the egg is the fetus in it dies before it is cooked. While duck eggs are generally used, not all duck eggs are as appetizing as the other, the mallard duck eggs are the best set of balut anyone would have.
This delicacy is not universally accepted because while animal lovers have their grievances against turning an almost developed duck into an appetizing meal, the religious fanatics believe it is murder and some human health organization believe it is not totally hygienic considering the fact that Salmonella enteritidis is present in the egg and it also contains fecal pathogens deposited on the eggshell during the incubation period. But none of these concerns has stopped the Asians from enjoying the Balut.
To further prove it’s gradual acceptance around the globe, the Chinese have adopted the Balut as part of their traditional meal after it was introduced to them by the Philippines sometime in 1885. Records have it that the best street meal found around the Filipinos is the balut egg.
How Can One Cook It?
A balut is not randomly incubated, most often it is incubated in the sand and stored in a basket in order to retain its warmth. Heat is very essential in the development of this embryo, nevertheless, it is very delicate and should not be exposed to a high amount of heat. During the incubation period, the egg is randomly checked in order to know its growing stage. For example after the ninth day of incubation, when held to a light, the development of the embryo is easily seen.
At the early stage of development, the balut is known as Balut Sa Puti meaning wrapped in white. Different traditions have a different incubation period, the Filipinos incubate for a period of 14-18 days, the Cambodian’s incubate for a period of 18-20 days while the Vietnamese prefer to incubate for 19-21 days. Like earlier stated, heat is very important in the incubation of a balut as well as during cooking because the food chemistry behind the food is basically built on the dispersion of water molecules inside the incipient fluid.
Often times people have different methods of cooking the balut egg, however, we are going to give a special recipe that is universally accepted. You would need:
1. A pot
2. A source of heat
3. Bay leaves
4. Star Anise
6. Chili Vinegar
Pour water into the pot after placing the pot on a heat source, add a few cloves of star anise, add bay leaves and a teaspoon of vinegar, add eggs while the water is still lukewarm in order to prevent cracking, the egg should be done in 8- 10 minutes. Serve with the Chili Vinegar.
Note: The egg is to be eaten while it is still warm in order to have a good feel of the broth created from the yolk. It is also eaten from the shell.
Balut could also be prepared in form of an omelet and is often used in producing food pastries, sometimes the white albumen is not eaten, but this is solely dependent on the period of incubation
Nutrient Contents of the Balut
Balut is enriched with protein and fat, however, when heated the proteinous content is drastically denatured. It contains 14 grams of crude protein having about 188 calories each and 100 milligrams of calcium. It also contains a perfect amount of vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Other than those, it also contains niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine which play huge roles in metabolizing energy in the body. In all, the balut egg has higher nutritional value than a chicken egg.
What Does It Really Taste Like?
If you can believe it, the balut egg especially the ones with a more developed fetus is said to taste like a chicken. But this has only been confirmed by those who are brave enough to overlook the pitiful sight of a half-formed duck while eating the delicacy.
When cooked, the underdeveloped embryo has very soft bones which are easy to grind, although, the egg can also be wholly consumed. The meal is eaten from the shell, it can be served as a dessert, an appetizer or alongside a full course meal.