Balut egg - Vietnam

I had a lot of reasons to visit Vietnam while traveling Southeast Asia, but one of the big ones was the food. I didn’t grow up eating Vietnamese food (in fact, I’m pretty sure there weren’t many restaurants in my area at the time), but when I eventually discovered it during university, I was hooked. I remember when I studied abroad in Sydney in 2006, I occasionally would grab a cheap (and spicy) banh mi sandwich from the restaurant down the street from my student housing. It was quick, filling and most important to a student, it was cheap.

When I arrived in Vietnam, I made food a definite priority.

Not that food hadn’t been in other countries (the Middle East, India and Thailand were also big food destinations for me), but it was just a big attraction for me. Vietnam has a bit of a reputation for eating…different…foods. And while I knew I’d want to eat dog meat while I was there, I was less certain about some of the other exotic foods. Snake? No thanks. Or so I thought.

I ended up eating a few exotic things, but missed out on the snake blood/cobra heart. I’m okay with that. One of the biggest surprised for me was when I ate balut egg—a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten in its shell. It’s a popular snack in Vietnam. You’d see food carts all over selling them. People just sit down quickly on a stool, dip a small spoon into the egg, chow down and go. After avoiding it for weeks, I sat down with my cousin Tifo and he showed me how to eat one properly. Check out the video below of my first balut experience!

The video isn’t edited, but you’ll just have to deal. And to prove that I actually finished an entire balut egg, a photo of my victory:

Balut egg in Saigon

I’m really glad I tried it because it actually was incredibly tasty. It was a little hard to take that first bite, and then once more when I came across what was clearly the beginning stage of a duckling (thankfully without the feathers). But in the end it wasn’t so hard. And like I said…it was good!

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27 comments

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  1. Haha, ohh this is kind of a little bit shudder-inducing!

    Glad you enjoyed it though. :)

  2. One of those things about travel – you never know what’s going to tickle your fancy. I know what’s NOT going to tickle mine though – have to echo Barbara on the happy to be a vegetarian sentiment! :-) You’ve got guts, though! :-)

  3. Michael

    I took a video as well. I was much more intense about it though. You looked all natural like you eat it everyday! haha.
    To me, it just tasted like a normal egg.

  4. Michael

    I took a video as well. I was much more intense about it though. You looked all natural like you eat it everyday! haha.
    To me, it just tasted like a normal egg.

    • Adam

      Hahah yeah… I saw your video – you made it into much more of a production! I actually wish I’d tried it sooner on my trip in Vietnam rather than near the end – would have been able to eat it a lot more often!

  5. alexis

    I’m from the Philippines and this is also a favorite snack! Although, I love the juice and everything else in it, I can’t eat the duck! I just can’t seem to bring myself up to it. But I eat everything else with salt, and it’s just so flavorful! I suggest everyone to try it!

    -Alexis
    http://worldtag.us

    • Adam

      I know what you mean! The duck fetus was the most challenging part! Salt and spices really helped it all go down, though.

  6. I agree with most people in this post you gatta have some serious guts to sit there and eat that

    • Adam

      Oh it’s really not that bad! I guess it is more difficult then eating other strange foods simply because it looks pretty gross, but if you close your eyes, it smells just like an egg and pretty much tastes just like egg too.

  7. I agree with most people in this post you gatta have some serious guts to sit there and eat that

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  9. Oh wow – I’d like to think of myself as pretty adventurous when I travel, and I’m always trying new things, but I don’t know if I could ever try THIS! Props to you, my friend. Is there anything you can compare the taste to?

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  11. Vivi

    I don’t mind trying dog, snake, scorpions, spiders and bats, hell, even cat, but… I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to try this.

    • Adam

      I definitely see where you’re coming from. It was way easier to eat dog than it was to eat the balut egg. But once you get over it initially, it gets easier.

  12. I have to say that after reading this I am doubly happy to be a vegetarian! :-)

    • Adam

      haha! Thanks Barbara, I can definitely understand the sentiment.

    • Adam

      haha! Thanks Barbara, I can definitely understand the sentiment.

  13. Robyn Chapman

    I think I would be scared to try that. Seeing the little duck in the shell would creep me out.

    • Adam

      That was the hardest part. But once I put it in my mouth it was all good.

    • Adam

      Thanks

  14. And I thought Vegemite was adventurous of me ;-) I never thought I’d want to try balut, but after watching you, I just may have to.

    • Adam

      Oh man… Vegemite is terrible!

    • Adam

      Maybe at first… But after the first bite it was pretty good so I ate the whole thing.

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