Cebu Eat: Trying the Balut (Fertilised Duck Egg) @ Carbon Market
When in Cebu, we went to The Barracks in the Carbon Market to try some of Cebu's local dishes, but we were not able to find the popular balut, or fertilised duck egg, within the premise of the new hawker centre. We exited The Barracks and searched the many push carts along a road next to it.
We did find a couple of push carts selling both balut and penoy (unfertilised duck eggs). In The Philippines — or maybe in Cebu — balut were cooked using fertilised duck eggs that were incubated for 16 or 18 days.
When we asked for one balut (₱30 each), the seller asked "16 or 18?". We did not understand what she meant initially and pointed at the young lady in our group who wanted to try it. The seller chose an egg for her — I believe it was a 16-day balut as most Filipino ladies will prefer younger eggs because the shape of the duckling will be much more obvious by the 18th day.
(I have tried balut in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and hột vịt lộn in Saigon, Vietnam. So, balut is no longer a challenge to me. This time, in Cebu, I have a gutsy young lady to be my model. Anyway, despite the same fertilised duck eggs, the Filipinos have a different way of eating it.)
The seller knocked on the rounder end (not the pointed end) of the balut and opened a small hole in the shell. After tearing away the membrane, the seller motioned for her to drink the delicious "soup" inside the still-hot egg before eating the egg.
Further peeling on the shell would expose the content and this was the moment that most challengers would become hesitant and regretted their initial "impulses" to try the balut.
But this young lady did not hesitate for long, she overcame the fear of the ghastly sight and sank her teeth into the duck and yellow egg yolk.
She took a few bites, swallowed half the egg and agreed with me that it simply tastes like plain chicken and hardboiled egg, no funny taste. A little salt and light sour-spicy sauce was added to the egg to increase the flavour.
Unlike the one that I tried in Cambodia, there was no bones nor beak nor anything hard in this balut — which reinforced my guess that it was a 16-day egg.
And she finished the whole egg, less a white substance inside the egg that was too hard to chew. Yes, she was gutsy indeed and not giving me a horrified look on her face — sigh...
At the second balut-selling push cart, some distance later, I bought another 3 baluts — one for myself and the other two for anyone who wanted to try back at the hotel later. One important thing: it will be best to eat balut when it is hot, else it will be another challenge once it turns lukewarm or cold — a kind of "fowl" taste will surface.
One last note, a tour guide informed us that balut in Cebu were usually sold at night, but there were specialised shops that were setup to sell balut and penoy in the day.