- Howard L Apr 3, 2003 01:51 PM
Tell me about Balut....how is it cooked and eaten, and is there maybe a restaurant in New York where it is served? Thanx
I've eaten it but sadly, not in New York so can't help you on that aspect. You should check out Vietnamese or Filipino shops.
It looks disgusting but tastes great - like the most intense chicken broth you've ever tasted. Because that's what it is, chicken soup cooked in a sealed container (the shell), with no added liquid to dilute the flavours. All you do is boil the egg for 10 minutes. After it's cooked you can either break the egg open and scoop it into a bowl or just eat the contents straight from the shell (but it's best to have a bowl underneath to catch the liquid - you don't want to lose any of that). Sprinkle it with a little salt to bring out the flavour.
Like I said before, it looks really disgusting. Depends on how developed the baby chicken was (you can buy them in different degrees of maturity). The ones I've eaten have been pretty advanced, although with some yolk remaining. So what you see is a dead baby chicken, with the eyes still closed and some pin feathers on it. Sorry to be so graphic, but I wasn't really prepared the first time I ate one, and I'm not the squeamish type. Once you get over that initial revulsion, it's fantastic.
Elvie's has closed sadly. There are big Filipino communities in Elmhurst Queens and Jersey City - along Newark Avenue. I'd suggest going to either neighborhood to find balut.
I am American and eat balut sober. I'm not quite sure why it freaks people out the way it does - I mean, most people eat duck (or at least chicken) and unfertilized chicken, duck, quail, etc. eggs, so what's the big deal? It is really tough to find in the US, though. It is not difficult to prepare (traditionally boiled, though there are other recipes and even some gourmet chefs have made menus out of it), but finding the eggs is a total pain because the growing is the most difficult part. Instead of trying to track down a restaurant, try http://www.metzerfarms.com/ for the eggs (or if you have a local duck farm you can save on shipping and ask them) and track down a recipe that sounds tasty to you.
Just try it. You just might like it. You just hard boil it. In Chinatown, there is a Vietnamese grocery store on the Bowery close to the corner or Grand Street called Tan Tin Hung I think. They have the best choices. For a starter, try the chicken which is 2 for $1 I believe but if you really want the real thing, get the 80 cent duck egg. Almost all the eggs they carry are a good medium sized embryo. This is what you want because it will have a tender medium young ducky/chick and a good amount of fluid. If the embryo is too large, there will be no fluid and the little birdy inside may have chewy feathers. Too little, lots of fluid and not much tasty birdy.
You want to pick one that is as white opaque as possible that feels a bit weighty. Look for an evenly colored white shell. The more round shaped the better.
Once you've picked your egg, hard boil it. Put cold water in a pot with egg/eggs and boil on medium for 15 minutes. The condiments you should have on the side is a black pepper/salt mix (50/50) and (optional) some cider or wine vinegar.
The best way to eat is to sit it up on an egg cup. If you don't have one, hold upright with a kitchen mitt or paper towel nested in a small bowl. You want the pointier end of the egg facing down and the larger rounder end upwards. Tap the large round end with a spoon and crack and remove about a dime/quarter size hole on that end. Once you see the membrane holding the fluids and good stuff inside poke it and burst the membrane so that you can get to the "soup" inside. It may still be hot so blow on it to cool and add a pinch of the salt/pepper mix to the fluids. Remove enough shell to enable you to drink the fluid inside. Once you drink the soup, remove more shell so that your spoon can fit inside the egg. Give it another pinch or so to the salt/pepper mix and dig in. The vinegar dip is normally used for the yellow yolk to cut how heavy the yolk may taste (think normal egg yolk flavor x5). I normally go without the vinegar so it is optional.
One last thing is that there is often a hard egg white inside that you can not eat. It is usually located on the pointy bottom so you shouldn't have any issues eating around it. Hope this guide made sense. Enjoy!