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Fertilized duck embryo has been very popular in Asian countries like the Philippines, Laos, and Vietnam for a very long time and very famous as a weird food to the world. So this guide is going to explain the reason why balut - fertilized duck embryo in Vietnam is so popular and why you should eat it.
Fertilized duck embryo is a very popular type of street food in Asian countries, especially in the Philippines and Vietnam. The word Balut is originated in the Philippines, while balut in Vietnam is called Hot vit lon. A balut looks like a normal duck egg on the outside but has developing bird embryo inside for about 18 days.
There are 2 popular types of balut in Vietnam, one is of a duck egg and the other is of a squail egg. Rarely do people have chicken balut in Vietnam simply because chicken meat has a higher economic value than duck meat, and people tend to sell the chicken instead of selling the fertilized eggs. In addition, chicken eggs nowadays and mass-produced in industrialized factories, which means the chicken eggs are not fertilized. Many people prefer chicken eggs over duck eggs due to their versatility. Duck eggs are said to have a slightly stronger smell than chicken's, and as a result, people turn to selling fertilized duck embryo in Vietnam for a higher market value.
When you break the shell of a balut, you should be careful not to let the liquid ooze out. This liquid inside the balut tastes a bit like chicken soup but has a much stronger flavor. As a result, you need to hold your balut vertically when you crack it, some places will offer a small cup for you to hold the egg.
The egg yolk texture is very soft, quite similar to custard and the embryo is like a poached chicken - which frightens lots of first-time eaters. The white egg is much more firm than a hard-boiled egg, a bit rubbery but not unpleasant.
The quail egg version of a balut
Each region has different ways to enjoy balut. For instance, in Hanoi, the eggs are removed from the shell and put right into a small bowl (they do not use cups), and use a small spoon to eat. In Southern Vietnam, after boiling, baluts are placed in a small cup, large egg head upward, then just gently peel the top of this with your fingers, then sprinkle with a little black pepper and salt.
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In Da Nang, the seasoning is very different than in other places. Balut is often served with sweet fish sauce, tangy green papaya, and hot and spicy ingredients such as chilies, ginger to balance the savory taste of the egg. In Phan Thiet - a small coastal city in Southeast Vietnam, people often eat duck eggs with sweet pickles made from carrots and radishes.
Balut in the north is usually served in a bowl or dish
Baluts in the south are often served in small cups
Balut in Phan Thiet city is accompanied by hot seasonings like ginger
However, no matter how balut is varied geologically, it always presents with a little of Rau ram, which is a kind of Vietnamese herb, also known as Vietnamese Coriander in English, which would add more heat and flavor to the dish and also make balut digestible. In terms of Oriental belief, this herb together with the balut is like Yin and Yang, creating a perfectly balanced food.
Balut and Vietnamese Coriander, an inevitable ingredient of balut dish
Mixed salt and pepper with some lime juice will also enhance the taste significantly
Recently, the methods of cooking balut have varied greatly. People add sauces like tamarind sauce or sweet fish sauce directly to the dish of boiled baluts or deep fry, which makes it more crunchy outside while remaining very soft and moist on the inside. Some Vietnamese hotpot also like crab hotpot also has balut as a favorite ingredient.
Baluts with tamarind sauce
1. Taste over appearance
Although balut might not look appetizing, the taste is very delicious with savory sauce along with meaty duck. It is even tastier when seasoning with black pepper or sweet vinegar.
2. Health benefits
Balut is a great source of energy and protein, which can boost your energy and significantly build your muscle. Moreover, the iron from balut can help circulate your blood while the calcium can strengthen your teeth and bones.
3. Challenge yourself to overcome the fear
Balut has appeared on reality shows such as Fear Factor, where participants have to do crazy stunts and eat crazy things. You do not need to join the show to challenge yourself; come and try the fertilized duck embryo on your trip to Vietnam.
4. Experience local culture
Food is an important part of a culture and one of the reasons for traveling is to experience the local culture. Therefore, if you travel to Vietnam without trying balut, you will miss a part of the heritage here.
In the North, people often eat duck eggs in the morning; while in the South, the serving of this dish starts from afternoon to evening. So is eating the balut in Vietnam at any time during the day reasonable? The answer of nutritionists is you should eat duck eggs in the morning and avoid eating in the evening because it is an indigestible food. If you eat eggs in the evening, you might feel uncomfortable; sometimes it can lead to bloating.
Modern nutritional research also shows that a balut egg includes 182 kcal of energy, 13.6 grams of protein; 12.4 grams of lipid; 82 mg of calcium; 212 grams of phosphorus, and 600 mg of cholesterol. There are also lots of beta-carotene, group A vitamins, B group and vitamin C, and iron.
Read more about Healthy Foods in Vietnam
Although balut is a very nutritious food, you should not eat too many because the excess level of vitamin A, protein and cholesterol might result in several health problems with your bones or blood pressure. Ideally, any healthy adult should eat only 2 servings a week. However, if you are a skinny person and want to gain weight, balut is a good option for you.
According to Vietnamese traditional beliefs, some people believe that balut has a healing effect on women after giving birth and is capable of improving sexual virility in men.
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Address: You can find the balut at any 7-Eleven stores in Ho Chi Minh City
Opening hours: 24/7
Price: VND 15,000
At 7 Eleven, balut is served with tamarind sauce
Hot vit lon Kim Thao
Address: 104 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien Ward, District 2
Opening hours: 3 PM - 11 PM
Price: VND 9,000
Hot vit lon Kim Thao
Although this store is only a small vendor on the street, it is known as serving the best Hot vit lon in Ho Chi Minh City and is always crowded with Vietnamese and foreign travelers. They also serve sugarcane juice here.
Fertilized duck embryo is famous all over the world as weird food, but there are many reasons other than pure curiosity as to why it is so popular in Asian countries. If you want to try it yourself in order to make your own conclusion, we have several tours for you to try balut and other iconic Vietnamese dishes such as I Love Food or Night Adventure.
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I saw Hanoi people having the balut with vermicelli soup, so I copied them ! It was fantastic
Not sure that this is for me!
Once you get over the fear, it's actually pretty tasty