Would you challenge yourself to eat an unborn duckling in these Asian countries?
ASIA’S cuisines and delicacies are mostly heavily influenced by its melting pot of cultures and races, and you will still be able to find some similarities between some countries.
But some of these delicacies are more controversial than others.
In the Southeast Asian archipelago of the Philippines, most people do not blink an eye at the idea of consuming balut, a common street food and appetizer in restaurants.
Balut in Tagalog or Malay means “wrapped,” and it was introduced to the Philippines by the Chinese around 1885.
It may be a part of the Filipino traditional culture and everyday life, but it is definitely not for the weakhearted.
At first glance, it looks like any ordinary hard-boiled egg. But it in is the yolk and next to it, a tiny hard-boiled carcass of a duck fetus.
So how is balut made?
A fertilized duck egg is incubated for a period of anywhere between 12 to 21 days (the most ideal is 17 days), just long enough for the fetus to begin forming.
Incubation conditions must be perfect so as not to kill the fetus (ironically) otherwise the egg is considered worthless.
Once the egg is ready, it is cooked the same way all other eggs in shells are ordinarily cooked: boiled or steamed.
During the cooking process, the liquids in a balut egg turn into broth which simmers the duck fetus and yolk, and when done, it should be eaten right away.
Now, because of the incubation process, it is common that the features of the duckling are recognizable, but the partially-developed bones are soft enough to chew.
Although it has an unusual texture, the taste of balut is said to be similar to chicken soup, and Filipinos would often eat it with salt, chili, garlic, and vinegar.
Unsuspecting travelers, even those with an iron stomach, would cringe but there is no doubt that the balut is a relatively cheap source of protein and calcium and a culinary fascination.
And the Philippines is not the only Southeast Asian country where balut is available.
In Laos, it is called khai look, and it is usually served with some salt and mint.
In Cambodia, a variety of condiments such as salt, black pepper powder, fresh lime, garlic slicers, chili, laksa leaves are mixed into the pong tia koun.
In Thailand, khai khao can be found less in the country’s major cities and more along the Cambodian-Thailand border.
In Vietnam, it is called trung vit lon and is believed to be a nutritious and restorative food for pregnant or delivering women.
It is definitely not for the squeamish but it if was love at first taste for you, please do not try to sneaking a couple home in your luggage as certain airport authorities may confiscate it from you.