“Balut,” popular in parts of Asia, is attracting a following in New York City.
What is “balut”?
“What it is is a fertilized duck egg. It’s about 11 to 14 days from hatching and it’s a delicacy in the Philippines,” described Miguel Trinidad, executive chef and partner at Maharlika, a Filipino restaurant in New York City.
“Balut” is boiled and usually served with a dash of salt and sugar cane vinegar.
Trinidad explained how to eat “balut,” as he prepared for his restaurant’s first-ever Balut Eating Contest.
“Once you crack it open, there is basically a soup in it and you crack it open, you drink that soup and then you eat the yolk and inside you see a baby duckling. Sometimes you might get lucky and you might find one that has a few feathers, a little bit of a beak on it, but you do see a little embryo and that’s the part that you eat along with the yolk and the soup. And it’s a great source of protein. It’s considered an aphrodisiac. It’s supposed to give people power,” he said.
Trinidad said many people consider “balut” an “extreme food,” especially after it was served on “Fear Factor,” a U.S. television show that challenged its contestants in unusual ways.
“It is different. It’s exciting, so it is rare. It is a challenge. A lot of people have seen it on Fear Factor. They want to come and try it, but once they actually taste it, it’s really.. it’s just getting past the visual,” he warned.
At Maharlika’s second location in Brooklyn’s Dekalb Market on Saturday, August 25, hundreds of people came to watch 10 contestants participate in what was billed at the Maharlika’s First Annual Balut Eating Contest.
Trinidad said the contest was a way to promote the restaurant’s third location opening next month in New York.
The rules were simple. Eat as many “balut” as you can within five minutes.
As the contest began before a cheering crowd, the participants cracked open the shell, peeled the egg and stuffed the juicy mixture of yolk and duck embryo into their mouths.
“You can feel the feathers and then like feel a little bit of the bone. It’s a little bit crunchy. But honestly, I wasn’t even thinking. I was just shoving it in my mouth,” said Jill, who ate eight eggs during the contest.
Her brother Eric ate nine eggs, but avoided the visual. “Honestly, it’s like a hard boiled egg with feathers. So… I don’t even want to look at that,” he said after the contest.
But in the end, there could only be one winner. And the egg-ceptional contestant was a man who goes by the name “Wayney Wonder” who downed 18 eggs in five minutes.
Wayne admitted the “balut” was a first for him.
“I had never tried it before this contest. This is the first time I’ve had it,” he said. “But it tasted like an egg. I didn’t think about the little animal I was eating.”
Wayne now holds the title of balut-eating champion and has a large black and gold belt to prove it.
Wayne promised to come back next year to defend his title.
(Story courtesy of Reuters News Service)