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For us Westerners, Asia is a distant land with wonderful offerings and mysterious fragrant cuisines. Sometimes, Asian specialties leave us speechless like the thousand-year-old egg or insects. One of our latest discoveries is balut, a special type of egg.
Chef Christophe Pelé of Le Clarence restaurant in Paris turned us onto this curious food. The double-starred chef does not prepare balut in his own kitchen but told us he had eaten it during a stay in Vietnam.
What is balut exactly? Fine Dining Lovers tells you everything but it's worth noting that vegetarians should turn away now (don't say we didn't warn you!).
WHAT IS BALUT?
Balut is a fertilized duck egg (sometimes chicken) that contains a fetus inside the shell. It is hatched for nearly three weeks and then steamed and served in its shell.
This delicacy is very popular in Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines, and China. It is generally a high-protein snack sold on the streets.
"At first glance, it's pretty repulsive because inside the egg there is a small animal that began to form," explains Pelé. "You can clearly see the beak, the bones, sometimes even the feathers ..."
HOW TO EAT BALUT
Unlike a boiled egg, balut should be cracked by the fat end of the shell where there is a pocket of air to help it break more easily. We remove this cap, we drink the "broth" that surrounds the embryo in small sips before taking small bites of the little duck baby inside the shell.
It is also possible to season balut with a little vinegar, salt, pepper or lime. The balut egg "is chewier [than a hard egg] and is actually very interesting," says Pelé.
Balut is usually served with a cold beer to help wash it down.
Still hungry? Take a look at these 11 weird foods around the world.