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Balut is an egg that has been fertilized and contains a partially developed embryo. In countries where it is considered to be a delicacy, a duck egg or a chicken egg may be used to prepare the dish. The mode of preparation is very simple. Generally, the egg is boiled and eaten directly from the shell, in much the same manner that boiled and unfertilized eggs are eaten around the world.
In countries where balut is commonly served, the fertilized duck egg or chicken egg is considered to be a superior source of protein. The boiled embryo is also considered to add flavor and texture to the egg. A balut may be enjoyed as a quick snack along with beer or some form of ale, or be employed as the centerpiece for a meal.
Along with the basic method of boiling the fertilized chicken egg or duck egg, it is not uncommon for the exposed contents of the shell to be doused with vinegar, chili peppers, or a variety of spices. Some prefer to not eat the white sections remaining in the shell, while others consume all the contents found within the egg proper. Balut can also be included as a center for baked pastries, as well as mixed into an egg batter and fried into an entrée.
Balut is developed by allowing the fertilized egg to begin developing the embryo for several days. During this period, the egg is kept warm. Generally, eight or nine days of consistent warmth are sufficient to allow the embryo to develop. At this juncture, the egg is ready for boiling. After boiling, the contents of the egg can be used in a number of different recipes. Generally, the balut is always served while still warm.
This type of egg remains a popular food in many parts of Asia. At present, the demand for balut in North America remains limited, although some ethnic food markets will routinely carry a limited amount.