Vietnamese Balut or Egg Embryo: Things You Need to Know

Balut, also pronunciation as balot in English (Trứng Vịt Lộn or Hột Vịt Lộn in Vietnamese Name) is a fertilized developing Duck/Quail egg embryo that is boiled or steamed and eaten from the shell (it is rarely to have chicken balut). This dish is commonly sold as street food in South China and Southeast Asian countries, notably the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam. The length of incubation before the Duck/Quail Eggs are cooked is a matter of local preference, but generally ranges between 14 and 21 days.


How ever, the Quran forbids consumption of meat if the animal has not been slaughtered in proper way, making the animal or animal-product "maytah". Because balut is an egg containing a partly-developed embryo, so this makes it "haram food", or "forbidden" in some culture.

How Do Vietnamese Cook Balut Eggs?

The Word Balut is originated in the Philippines. In Vietnam, apart from boiling the balut to keep the nutrition and mind savory flavor, local Vietnamese can also stir-fried balut with tamarind sauce, chilli, ginger and mix it with some gourd, or put it into a hot pot dish.


After the egg is getting incubated for 2 to 3 weeks, a balut/embryo will be cooked in some different ways but the most popular way is boiling in fresh water. As it is beleaved in this way of cooking, balut can keep the original taste and nutrition. The recipe to cook is very simple. It’s just like we boil a normal egg but there are some tips you should have in mind:

  • Put this special egg when the water is still cold. Otherwise, balut will be broken/cracking. Accordingly, it will lose its delicious soup and special taste.
  • Put water till you see balut is floating on top. Normally, water should be twice the height of the duck/quail egg.
  •  Cook it for at least around 20 to 30 minutes more since the water boiled. A soft-boiled egg is not a term for balut. It needs to be well-cooked. Otherwise, your stomach might need some medicine to save it up.
  • Put some sea salt into the water before boiling to make the balut taste better.

How to Eat Balut in Vietnamese Way?

Eating an egg balut is not really a big deal and safe to eat. However, to enjoy a balut egg “in peace”, you need to know how to do it. Local Vietnamese rarely eat balut as a main meal but mainly as junk food or as an ingredient for another dish such as hot pot or noodle soup. As mentioned, boiling is the most common way that the Vietnamese cook and enjoy a balut. Therefore, I will share with you how to eat a boiled balut as a local.


Like eating a normal bird egg, we just simply pill out half of the shell, then put some black pepper, chilli sauce, sour ginger, fresh basil leave, veneger and enjoy it. However, as balut is a different egg which contains a baby duck/quail inside, you should know how to eat it properly.

Actually, there are different ways to eat a boiled balut. You can firstly take off the shell, put the whole egg into a small bowl and eat it. This is how people in the North of Vietnam enjoy this special duck/quail eggs.


However, this way is a bit too much for beginners as you will see the whole duck fetus exposed in front of you. Someone also separates the duckling part and the yellow part to eat. Imagine to put the whole body of a baby duck in your mouth? If this is your first time trying balut, you should follow another way. Otherwise, you may not finish the challenge.

Is Balut Boiled Alive and Safe to Eat?

In Vietnam, Philippines and some other Asian Countries, the balut is boiled alive, where as the Auckland restaurant serving up balut egg chills them first, meaning the egg embryo is already dead when it reaches the pot. A cheap and high protein snack, balut is apparently an acquired taste.


Since the Balut Egg is cooked it is safe to eat. Balut is also considered a healthy food to eat because it is very nutritious. The entire content of the egg embryo can be eaten, although the albumen is often considered a bit hard and tough to eat.

Where to Try Balut/Embryo in Vietnam?

Vietnamese people usually eat balut egg everywhere and every time they can. It can be on the street vendors, in a restaurant, sometimes in a family meal. The most popular places are opened  streets or pavement or random corners in Hanoi, Sa Pa, Halong Bay, Phong Nha, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City,... near me because balut egg is street food.


If you have a tour to Ho Chi Minh City or other cities in Vietnam by night, you can see many street vendors selling balut on the sidewalk with really cheap price. Balut is one of the common dish that is often on the top of the menu. Don’t forget to stop by and try one. One balut costs you just VND 7.000 – VND 10.000. With 1 euro, you can try around 3 baluts. It’s really cheap to try!

Why Do Vietnamese Love to Eat Balut?

The Vietnamese People love to eat balut as it’s beleaved to be very yummy. From the soup to the content inside the shell, all are delicious with high benefits. Especially when you eat it with a combo of some Vietnamese coriander/basil (rau răm), some ginger, and a sauce made of salt pepper lemon, the flavor deserves a chef kiss.


Besides, a balut egg contains rich nutrients and is considered to be good for health. So it’s no surprise that this is one of the delicacies of Vietnamese people. Nutrition Facts and Value of Balut is also beleaved to be much higher compare to the normal eggs of its kind. In traditional medicine, according to popular Vietnamese belief, these eggs are a nutritious and restorative food for pregnant or delivering women.

Why is Balut Listed as Weirdest Food to Try?

Is balut cruel? As a balut egg is a fertilized egg and gets incubated for from two to three weeks, it already had the form of a baby duck/quail underneath the shell. The looking of balut makes many foreigners scary because when they eat it, they need to bite slowly the whole duck fetus from the head to the legs, bones, beaks, feathers, and all.


The whole experience is not easy and nice for beginners at all. That’s why balut is ranked as one of the Most Horror Dishes in Vietnam and even in the world. However, there are still a few international people who hesitated to try balut at first. But then they really fell in love with the dish!

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See Also:

Vietnamese Balut or Egg Embryo: Things You Need to Know Vietnamese Balut or Egg Embryo: Things You Need to Know
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