One of the first street eats you will be dared to try as soon as you step into Manila soil, balut looks like your typical hard-boiled egg on the outside. What lurks within is no ordinary egg yolk, but a three-week-old fertilized duck embryo. Welcome to the Philippines.
There’s an art to eating the balut. Start by cracking a small hole on the hollow end of the egg and sucking the broth (which is amniotic fluid, if you must know) before peeling half the shell off. Bite off the yellow part to introduce your tongue to the texture of boiled yolk mixed with cartilage, and as you remove the rest of the shell, try not to focus on the wings, beak, and other parts of the duckling that you may see. Before you get squeamish, chomp on the rest of the balut quickly until you get to the tough white lump of egg white. It’s edible, but some people prefer to throw it out. Rock salt and vinegar are optional.
Beginners may try the tamer version: penoy. All your tongue will feel is a mass of white and yellow underdeveloped embryo, and none of the discernable baby duck parts.