VietnamFood & DrinksTry a Balut - Fertilized Duck Embryo in Vietnam

Try a Balut – Fertilized Duck Embryo in Vietnam

Fertilized duck embryos, or baluts, are popular in Asian countries like the Philippines, Laos, and Vietnam. However, they are somewhat weird food to the rest of the world. So, this guide will explain why balut – fertilized duck embryo in Vietnam are so popular and why you should eat them.

What is Fertilized Duck Embryo in Vietnam

Fertilized duck embryo is a very popular type of street food in Asian countries, especially in the Philippines and Vietnam. The word “Balut” originated in the Philippines, while balut in Vietnam is called Hot vit lon. A balut looks like a regular duck egg on the outside but has a developing bird embryo inside.

There are 2 popular types of balut in Vietnam. One is of a duck egg, and the other is of a squail egg. People rarely have chicken balut in Vietnam because chicken meat has a higher economic value, and people tend to sell the chicken instead of the fertilized eggs. In addition, chicken eggs are mass-produced in industrialized factories, which means the chicken eggs are not fertilized. Many people prefer chicken eggs over duck eggs due to their versatility. Duck eggs are said to have a slightly stronger smell than chicken eggs. Therefore, people turn to selling fertilized duck embryos in Vietnam for a higher market value.

What Does the Balut Taste Like

When you break the shell of a balut, you should be careful not to let the liquid ooze out. This liquid inside the balut tastes like chicken soup but has a much stronger flavor. As a result, you need to hold your balut vertically when you crack it. Some places will offer a small cup for you to hold the egg.

The egg yolk texture is very soft, quite similar to custard, and the embryo is like a poached chicken, which frightens many first-time eaters. The white egg is much firmer than a hard-boiled egg; it’s a bit rubbery but not unpleasant.

balut quail egg
The quail egg version of a balut

Variations of Fertilized Duck Embryo in Vietnam

Each region has different ways to enjoy balut. For instance, in Hanoi, the eggs are removed from the shell, put into a small bowl (they do not use cups), and eaten with a small spoon. In Southern Vietnam, after boiling, baluts are placed in a small cup with a large egg head upward then just gently peel the top of this with your fingers, then sprinkle with a little black pepper and salt.

Fertilized-Duck-Embryo-in-Vietnam-northern
Example of serving balut in Northern Vietnam

In Da Nang, the seasoning is very different than in other places. Balut is often served with sweet fish sauce, tangy green papaya, and hot and spicy ingredients such as chilies and ginger to balance the savory taste of the egg. In Phan Thiet – a small coastal city in Southeast Vietnam, people often eat duck eggs with sweet pickles made from carrots and radishes.

However, no matter how balut is varied geologically, it always presents with a little of Rau ram, which is a kind of Vietnamese herb, also known as Vietnamese Coriander in English. This would add more heat and flavor to the dish and also make balut digestible. In terms of Oriental belief, this herb and the balut are like Yin and Yang, creating a perfectly balanced food.

balut herbs
Balut and Vietnamese Coriander, an inevitable ingredient of balut dish
balut lime salt
Mixed salt and pepper with some lime juice will also enhance the taste significantly

Recently, the methods of cooking balut have varied considerably. People add sauces like tamarind sauce or sweet fish sauce directly to the dish of boiled baluts or deep fry, which makes it more crunchy outside while remaining very soft and moist on the inside. Some Vietnamese hotpots, like crab hotpot, have balut as a favorite ingredient.

Fertilized-Duck-Embryo-in-Vietnam-bun-rieu
Balut as a topping in Bun rieu

Why You Should Try Fertilized Duck Embryo in Vietnam

1. Taste over appearance

Although balut might not look appetizing, the taste is delicious, with savory sauce and meaty duck. It is even tastier when seasoned with black pepper or sweet vinegar.

2. Health benefits

Balut is an excellent source of energy and protein, which can boost your energy and significantly build your muscles. Moreover, the iron from balut can help circulate your blood, while the calcium can strengthen your teeth and bones.

3. Challenge yourself to overcome the fear

Balut has appeared on reality shows such as Fear Factor in the US. You do not need to join the show to challenge yourself; come and try the fertilized duck embryo on your trip to Vietnam.

4. Experience local culture

Food is an integral part of a culture, and one of the reasons for traveling is to experience the local culture. Therefore, if you travel to Vietnam without trying balut, you will miss a part of the heritage here.

Nutrition Facts about  Balut – Fertilized Duck Embryo in Vietnam

Modern nutritional research also shows that a balut egg includes 182 kcal of energy, 13.6 grams of protein; 12.4 grams of lipid; 82 mg of calcium; 212 grams of phosphorus, and 600 mg of cholesterol. There are also lots of beta-carotene, group A vitamins, B group and vitamin C, and iron.

In the North, people often eat duck eggs in the morning, while in the South, the serving of this dish starts from afternoon to evening. So, is eating the balut in Vietnam at any time during the day reasonable? The answer from nutritionists is that you should eat duck eggs in the morning and avoid eating them in the evening because they are hard to digest. Eating eggs in the evening might lead to bloating.

Read more about Healthy Foods in Vietnam

Although balut is a very nutritious food, you should not eat too many because of the excess level of vitamin A, protein, and cholesterol. Ideally, any healthy adult should eat only 2 servings a week. However, if you are skinny and want to gain weight, balut is a good option.

According to Vietnamese traditional beliefs, some people believe that balut has a healing effect on women after giving birth and is capable of improving sexual virility in men.

Where to Try Balut in Ho Chi Minh City

The easiest way to try balut in Vietnam is to look for street vendors or food carts similar to the image below. However, you must be careful of the freshness of the eggs and how clean the herbs are. You can choose between the boiled option or with tamarind sauce. (which is called “rang me” in Vietnamese). The price for one boiled fertilized duck egg is VND 8,000 – VND 10,000

balut where to eat

There is one famous shop in Ho Chi Minh City that can guarantee the taste and freshness of the eggs.

Hot vit lon Kim Thao

Address: 104 Xuan Thuy, Thao Dien Ward, District 2
Opening hours: 3 PM – 11 PM
Price: VND 12,000

Fertilized-Duck-Embryo-in-Vietnam-kim-thao
Hot vit lon Kim Thao is extremely crowded, but their service is quick

Although this store is only a small vendor on the street, it is known for serving the best Hot vit lon in Ho Chi Minh City and is always crowded with Vietnamese and foreign travelers. They also serve sugarcane juice here.

Conclusions of Try A Balut – Fertilized Duck Embryo In Vietnam

Fertilized duck embryos are famous worldwide as a weird food, but there are many reasons other than pure curiosity about why it is so prevalent in Asian countries. If you want to try it yourself to make your conclusion, we have several tours for you to try balut and other iconic Vietnamese dishes, such as I Love Food or our Night Adventure tours.

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