Balut. Either you love it or you don’t. Me, I love balut. I eat everything but the hard white stone but only if the duck is small and covered in soft egg white (see balut photo). If it looks too large, has feathers and bones that I have to spit out, I pass.
Is it a Filipino original or not? I was surprised when Anthony Bourdain went to Vietnam and ate his first balut there. They have balut in Vietnam too? Is that something they got from the Filipinos or does that mean the Philippines has no exclusive claim over its origin? Makes no difference to me. I love balut whatever and wherever its origin. Love it enough to take on the suggestion of a former boss to bring my balut experience to even greater heights by cooking the eggs as an adobo dish.
It all started at my former boss’s birthday party some eight years ago. Dinner was over and guests had split into small groups. I found myself with a bunch of men and women much older than me and, instead of munching on the usual salted peanuts with their beer, they were eating balut. They said balut was no good after one day but my former boss said that wasn’t true. Cook them as adobo, serve them with fried rice and they’re unbelievably good, she said. In my mind, I believed it. It made a lot of sense. Hard boiled eggs added to chicken or pork adobo are great and I bet adobong balut would be even better. But I never tried making adobong balut until many years later. After I did, I was hooked.
This is my preferred proportion of ingredients for making adobong balut. The rationale? Neither the garlic nor the vinegar nor the soy sauce should overpower the flavor of the balut. For every egg, you will need:
1 clove of finely minced garlic
2 tbsps. of vinegar
3 tbsps. of soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper
Simmer the minced garlic, vinegar and soy sauce in a pan for about a minute — just long enough to coax the flavors out. Make the pan just big enough to contain the balut in a single layer. That way, you contain the sauce so that most of it is in contact with the eggs. Add the shelled balut, including the juices, add the pepper, then swirl the pan so that the eggs are coated with the sauce. DO NOT stir the contents of the pan because you really don’t want the eggs to break up into yolk, white and duck. So, swirl. Simmer for another minute. Swirl once more. Turn off the heat. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Give the eggs a final swirl and, for the ultimate experience, serve with garlic fried rice.