Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I triple dog dare you . . .

Balut is probably the philippines' most infamous dish -- it is a half-hatched duck embryo that is boiled at an early stage of development and then eaten with salt. I've heard comparisons to everything from soft-shell crab (since there is a beak and feet) to "it tastes just like chicken and egg, together," but since I was too scared to try it while growing up, I could never verify these claims. however, last night my aunt was kind enough to buy 6 balut for michael and I to try. I made the foolish mistake of trying to dissect mine first (as opposed to closing my eyes and downing it like a shot, my mom's method of choice), so unfortunately, I was so grossed out by what I saw that I backed down at the last minute. but watching my aunt and michael eat was pretty fascinating; if you are ever going to try balut, follow these steps:

1) when you look at the egg, one end should be slightly wider than the other. that's the top, and you want to tap that end against the table until it cracks.
2) take off the top bit of shell and suck out the juice. don't worry, you won't be drinking blood -- it's a clear liquid that is sort of like an eggy chicken broth

3) start peeling off the rest of the shell. you'll notice that the bottom part of the balut is hard -- that is some sort of placenta-esque thing that you don't want to eat

4) scrape off the embryonic membrane (this is where I got a bit squeamish) note: whatever you do, don't separate the wings, because the head/beak is underneath and it actually looks like a chicken. and the black stuff is the beginnings of feathers. just FYI

5) throw some salt on it. bottoms up!

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