Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Balut: The Feathered Egg

If there is one food item in the Philippines that can evoke a mixture of delight, disgust, and doubt it is none other than the renowned, BALUT.

Balut is a fertilized duck egg with visible beak, legs and feathery embryo, a yolk and an egg white or albumin that hardens after it is cooked. Balut is a very popular street food among Filipinos since time immemorial. Folks, particularly men considered balut as a virility-enhancing and stamina-boosting aphrodisiac.


Balut - A Fertilized Duck Egg


Balut is produced from Mallard Duck or Itik and the outlying coast of Pateros and Pasig is where balut-making have evolved. Great care and attention is observed during incubation period. The embryo development is confirmed by its shadowy presence within the shell revealed through a background light. Balut sa Puti considered as the perfect balut is a17-day old egg, without discernible beak, feathers, claws and have underdeveloped bones. An additional 3 to 4 days will yield a more duck embryo’s basic feature yet still tender.


A 17-day Old Balut


Eggs that fail to properly develop within the 9 to 12 days are prepared as PENOY. Although it looks like a regular hard-boiled egg, it has a smell and taste that some may find unpleasant.


Penoy


Balut are sold in late afternoon and early evenings. Balut vendors start plying their basketful of warm eggs with a melodic outcry of “baloooooooot” announcing through the streets this household delicacy and drinking-spree gathering in need of side dish or pulutan.


A Balut Vendor


Folklore cautions against consuming balut with beer. It is believed to cause hypertension and headache. Pregnant women are warned not to crave for balut because their expected babies might acquire Hirsutism or excessive hairiness.

Balut is fortified with high-quality nutrients and micronutrients such as Vitamins A, D, B6 and B12, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folic Acid, Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron. The nutritional content is higher than chicken egg. A duck egg contains more cholesterol than a chicken egg. The white part or albumin is high in uric acid content.

Balut is cooked in its shell and is usually ingested as a finger food. It is taken whole, chewed and gulped; or alternatively, in two stages, the feathered ducky and the yolk in separate chew-and-gulps. But before the mouthful chew-and-gulp, there is a ritual of Suck-Shell-Separate-Chew-Gobble-and-Gulp.

It starts with tapping and cracking the pointed tip of the egg to produce a small opening – just big enough to shear off the paper-thin sac to allow an exit for the vigorous sucking and slurping of about a tablespoonful of budding amniotic broth. The shell is removed to expose the mass and nestled contents - embryo, yolk and hard white.



A Balut With Pointed Tip Opened


The hard white part is separated, and the embryo, with or without the yolk, is dipped in salt or a sauce of vinegar, garlic and chili, and with flourish and composure taken in, chewed, savored, and chased down with beer.


Balut Is Best Chased Down With Beer


For foreign visitors in the Philippines, downing several balut is a brazen challenge, a Fear Factor kind of macho-measure of tolerance and resilience that on fearless stance or alcoholic-assisted consummation would merit a high five or acceptance into the peer.


Eating Balut


So I call on all upscale thrill seekers, zip line riders, bungee jumpers, high-flyers, worm-eating, snail-sucking, try-anything-once, been-there, done-those daring travelers and swashbucklers; to take on the BALUT Challenge.

KANPAI!

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