Balut is a traditional Filipino delicacy well-known not only in the Philippines but worldwide, often eliciting a wide range of reactions due to its unique nature. It is a fertilized duck egg that has been incubated for anywhere between 14 to 18 days, depending on regional preferences and traditions. The incubation allows the duck embryo inside the egg to develop, after which the egg is boiled much like a regular chicken egg. The result is a unique food item that contains not only the typical components of a boiled egg but also the partially-formed embryo of a duck.

Consuming Balut involves a particular method: the top of the egg is cracked open, and the liquid broth, considered flavorful and nutritious, is sipped. This broth is the amniotic fluid in which the embryo floats. The rest of the egg is then peeled, revealing the partially-formed duck embryo and a yolk. All of these parts are typically eaten. The taste of Balut is often described as rich, hearty, and similar to a whole chicken soup. On the other hand, the texture can be slightly more challenging for first-time tasters due to the combination of the tender duck embryo and harder yolk.

Nutritionally, Balut is a powerhouse. It is high in protein and nutrients like calcium and vitamin A, making it a popular nutritious snack, especially among pregnant women and athletes.┬áDespite its nutritional value, Balut has been controversial due to animal rights concerns. However, it remains a deeply embedded part of Filipino culture and cuisine. In addition to the Philippines, it’s also consumed in other Southeast Asian countries like Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, where it’s known under different names.

Street vendors usually sell Balut during the evening, and are often paired with a cold beer. It’s also served in some restaurants and bars. Despite its distinctive nature, for many, Balut is a symbol of national identity and a testament to the diverse culinary traditions of the Philippines.