Oh my! THIS is balut, fertilized duck egg (& how to make it)

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 7, 2021

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As you can see, this post is on balut. And no, you’re not reading that wrong: this dish does indeed have fertilized duck egg.

But don’t knock it before you try it! While it might sound disgusting, balut is actually a Filipino delicacy and something you should definitely try at least once in your life.

If you like to be a culinary daredevil, then read on. I’m here to show you how to make balut and eat it!

Balut

How to make balut

Joost Nusselder
Balut is believed to be a potent aphrodisiac and cure for hangovers. Others eat it as a standalone meal due to its high level of nutrients. It's a nutritious snack, high in protein and calcium.
No ratings yet
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Filipino
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 8 thick-shelled eggs
  • 1 cup palay rice (unhusked rice)

Instructions
 

  • Select duck or chicken eggs by tapping the eggs with your fingers to pull out cracked or thin-shelled eggs (Eggs with cracks have a hollow sound while thin-shelled have a brittle sound).
  • Only thick-shelled eggs are used for balut making because these can withstand the stresses of egg placement and removal in cylindrical baskets called “toong”. These are open on both ends, 34 inches high and 21 inches in diameter; spaces around are filled with rice hulls up to 4 inches from the brim. Ideally, eggs made into balut should not be older than 5 days from the time they are laid.
  • Roast or heat palay to a temperature of 107 °F or 430 °C in an iron vat or cauldron. Remove palay when you can hold it in your hands.
  • Eggs are then placed in the toong; these are alternated with heated palay bags. The number of heated palay bags is 1 for every egg bag. Placed 2 heated palay bags on the bottom and 2 on the top level to ensure heat conservation. For every toong containing 10 layers of eggs, you would need 13 bags of roasted palay.
  • Each toong can hold 10 bags. Cover with just sacks to conserve heat further. Candling is the process of holding eggs against the hole of a lighted box in a dark room to separate infertile eggs from fertile ones. Infertile eggs are called penoy; these are also boiled like balut but fetch a lower price.
  • First, candling is done on the 11th day after eggs are placed in toong. Candling is done again on the 17th day to separate eggs with dead embryos (abnoy) and those that are ready to be sold as balut. Eggs with weak embryos take 18-20 days to be released; these are hard boiled and sold.
  • Eggs intended for hatching are left in the balutan for 28 days when ducklings will hatch. After 20 days, palay bags are not heated anymore since embryos can generate enough heat to keep them warm.
  • When using kerosene or electric incubators for hatching duck eggs, maintain a temperature of 100°F and humidity from 55°F to 60°F. Do not hatch duck and chicken eggs together in 1 incubator, as duck eggs require a different temperature and a higher rate of humidity. A pan of water kept in the bottom of the incubator helps maintain humidity level. During the incubation period, turn eggs at least 3 to 4 times a day to obtain a better percentage of hatchability.
  • Clean hatching eggs with a slightly moist and clean rag before storing to prevent contamination of the developing embryo or newly hatched chicks.
Keyword Balut
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Watch this video from a famous vlogger who posted about balut. Credit goes to the owner of this video.

What is balut?

In the Philippines, balut is a popular and traditional street food.

But what is balut in plain English?

Balut is a fertilized duck egg (or chicken) that’s three weeks old. The embryo in it has all appendages, like partially feathered wings, legs, beady eyes, as well as a beak, all ready for eating!

The slightly formed skeleton of the duck embryo is what gives balut its unique taste. It’s boiled, served with spicy vinegar or rock salt, and is usually eaten at night.

How to Make Balut

Where did balut come from?

It’s not really known where balut came from. However, this dish is common throughout Southeast Asia, particularly in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia.

The method of making balut is similar to that of the Chinese maodan (or feathered egg in English), which led some to think that Chinese people brought the food into the Philippines.

What do balut eggs taste like?

Balut is a Filipino delicacy that tastes like an egg with the consistency of pudding, but also a crunchy bite from the beak and bones.

The dish has been dubbed as “the world’s most disgusting food” by some (only if you look at it). But like me, many will love it for the tasty savory flavor profile when served warm.

How do you eat balut?

For the true balut experience, you need to find an egg with a thick shell and no visible cracks. Once you’ve found it, crack a small hole and sprinkle a bit of salt into it.

Then, drink the broth. Eat the yolk and white parts as you peel off more of the shell, but don’t forget about enjoying that embryo last! You should dip it into the vinegar sauce and eat it whole.

FAQs

I know; balut is such a curious dish. You know how to make and eat balut, but you probably still have so many questions.

Here are some answers to your burning questions!

Is balut an aphrodisiac?

Filipino men are said to use balut like Viagra. This is because the dish contains high levels of protein and energy.

This allegedly makes you more sexually aroused. As a result, eating balut on a regular basis can stir up the desire for sex among Filipino males!

Is eating fertilized duck eggs healthy or bad for you?

Balut is believed to be a potent aphrodisiac and cure for hangovers. Others eat it as a standalone meal due to its high level of nutrients.

It’s a nutritious snack, high in protein and calcium.

What is the liquid in balut?

Balut is a dish where the cooked embryos of an egg-laying fowl (like ducks or hens) are still inside. The four parts in it are liquid (soup), yolk, albumen (egg white), and finally, the chick with its head, eyes, and beak intact, as well as its feathers.

Balut

How long should balut be boiled?

To cook balut, you should boil it for 20 minutes or steam it for 30 minutes to make it a really hard-boiled egg. This helps soften the embryo inside for eating.

You can then let it cool under cold water to stop it from cooking further, but it should be eaten while still hot.

Are balut eggs alive? Are they boiled alive?

Balut is boiled fertilized duck eggs with a formed embryo in them. In the Philippines, these embryos are boiled alive and then served to eat.

In most Western countries with large Filipino communities, the eggs are often chilled first, killing the embryo before the eggs are boiled.

Is balut illegal?

Balut is one of the most controversial foods in all of Asia. Filipino law and even American and Canadian laws state that if an animal isn’t considered a pet, it can be consumed for food without consequences.

Balut comes from chickens, which aren’t considered pets by any standards. This means we’re free to eat and sell them at almost any stage in their life cycle.

The short answer is that animals are classified as being either “pet” or “non-pet”. Eating non-pets like chickens then becomes legal in any form.

There have been petitions, like this petition on change.org to stop balut from being legally eaten, but there just hasn’t been much attention for it.

What is the experience like with balut vendors?

If you’re after a genuine experience with balut in the Philippines, then you might be curious what it’s like to buy from balut vendors!

All you’ll have to do is take a walk around residential areas, wet markets, and even the parks. But just let your ears do the work, because surely you’ll hear the balut vendors calling out “balut” loudly!

While most vendors peddle their goods, others are stationed at bigger areas, such as schools and hospitals. You should be able to buy cooked balut from dusk until dawn.

Why is balut sold at night?

Balut is such a great late-night snack, and that’s probably the only reason it’s mostly sold at night!

Some think it’s an aphrodisiac, while others believe it cures hangovers. Plus, it’s just the perfect beer pair.

Is balut haram?

Eating animals without slaughtering them properly is forbidden in the Quran because that makes it “maytah”.

The egg in a balut contains a duck embryo (or chicken). This means eating one would be considered as breaking the rules and is forbidden or haram.

How much does balut cost?

The price of balut differs around the world. You can even get them in America for $2.00 to $2.50.

In Vietnam, one egg from the market is around 5,000 VND ($0.22) and in the Philippines, a balut duck egg will cost you 15 PHP ($0.30).

In California, the price for one balut egg recently increased from $2.50 to around $5.00. This is thanks to farms needing larger space to comply with the Standards for Confining Farm Animals Act.

Can I eat balut while pregnant?

When a pregnant Filipino woman eats a balut egg, it’s believed that it encourages an easier pregnancy and healthier baby.

Balut’s full of vitamin C and beta carotene, both of which help clean free radicals from your bloodstream. This can lead to a stronger immune system!

Can I eat balut every day?

Balut is very healthy and just like with normal chicken or duck eggs, you can eat it every day if you want. There are no potential downsides to the egg having a fertilized duck embryo.

Can I bring balut into the US?

Customs will inspect all eggs coming into the country, and balut is no exception. Eggs that appear to be cooked throughout, such as hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, are allowed entry without any additional inspections.

However, anything that doesn’t look thoroughly cooked through may require certification before it can enter America’s borders.

Can I microwave balut?

You can’t microwave balut to cook the egg. You have to boil it to make it edible.

But it’s perfectly fine to reheat precooked balut in the microwave.

Is it safe to reheat balut?

Balut is best served freshly boiled, but it’s perfectly safe to reheat. You can put the egg in hot water for around 5 minutes (it doesn’t have to be boiling yet) or microwave the egg for 1 to 3 minutes.

Should balut be refrigerated?

Most people enjoy eating balut freshly cooked, but the shelf-life of cooked balut can last up to 1 day before it begins to spoil.

It should be kept in the refrigerator for no more than 1 week or so.

How can you tell if balut is bad?

Just like with regular hard-boiled chicken eggs, use the water test.

Fill a bowl with water and place the balut in it. If they float, this means they’re too old and need to be thrown out.

Can balut eggs hatch?

It’s a fair assumption that if you see balut in the US, it’ll be cooked.

It can’t hatch because it hasn’t been incubated for long enough at consistent temperatures. So it can’t become fully developed.

Can balut make you fat?

Most experts say eating eggs will help you lose weight, and balut is no exception.

Eggs are a healthy breakfast option for those who want to lose weight. They provide you with 2 incredibly important nutrients: protein and vitamin D, both of which can help your metabolism.

Which country is best to eat balut?

Balut is considered the national street food of the Philippines. But Vietnam is equally good to visit to try this exotic delicacy.

You can find it in China. But then again, it’s available in the US and Canada as well.

What is balut sa puti?

“Balut sa puti” means “balut in white”. If the idea of gulping down feathered wings, legs, beaks, and the likes isn’t so appealing to you, then you might want to start off with this.

In balut sa puti, the duck embryo is just 16 to 18 days old. What this means is it’s still soft and fluffy. You won’t have to worry about a duckling face staring up at you while you try to eat it!

What is the balut sa puti festival?

Balut is a delicacy, so it makes sense that there’d be a festival celebrating it!

On January 31, the municipality of Pateros holds the balut sa puti festival. It has a cooking competition to find the best balut in the area. Dishes served include adobong balut, fried balut, and sizzling balut.

And of course, there’s lots of partying with plenty of beer and live music!

Try these strange fertilized duck eggs

There’s no doubt about it: balut is weird and probably gross to many people. But it’s definitely a delicacy you need to try if you’re an adventurous eater!

Now that you know what balut is, how to prepare it, and how to eat it, it’s about time you give it a try. Balut consumption can be something to tick off your bucket list!

Also check out this Lengua Estofado Recipe (Ox Tongue in Tomato Sauce)

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.