I like to watch television shows about food. In fact, many of you might be surprised — I originally got a lot of my real culinary knowledge from watching television. Now that food television has turned into dumb cooking competitions where people cook three-course meals while running around backwards and naked through a grocery store while blindfolded and maimed, I’ve stopped watching a lot of it. God, guys. Even I have standards.
One of the shows I still watch is Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, where Andrew travels long distances to eat strange and interesting food items from across the world. If watching a fat bald guy sucking shrimp eyeballs through a cow’s uterus doesn’t make you moist in your private parts, I don’t know what’s wrong with you.
Most food doesn’t bother me — I mean come on, I love Taco Bell. I’ll clearly eat anything. But the first food that actually shocked me from the first time I saw it, was balut. Food nerds know what balut is, but if that word means nothing to you, well, you’re in for a real treat. Balut is a developing duck or chicken embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell. Yes, you read that correctly. Balut is basically an unborn poultry fetus. It’s a delicacy in the Philippines and is often eaten on the street as a snack for beer. It’s also thought to be a male aphrodisiac. If eating a duck fetus doesn’t give you a boner, then you need to get your penis thoroughly examined by a person who specializes in penises. Notice I didn’t say “doctor.” By the way, your mother specializes in penises.
Before you get all grossed out, let’s take a moment to reflect on why people would eat something like this. When you’re hungry and there is no food, and your family will die without eating, what do you do? Do you cry and tweet about it? No. You take whatever you have, even if it seems like a terrible idea, you shut up, eat it, and live to see another day. That is how most of the truly delicious food we eat today was discovered — because people would have died without it. This is why I almost never complain about food even when it is not very good. So right now you’re allowed to be grossed out, and shocked, but you can never, ever, judge someone for what they eat, because we all have to live.
You can, however, make fun of people for doing dumb things. I like that people come read this site to feel better about themselves when they see what a hellbent loser I am.
Eggs are one of my favorite foods. You can pretty much do anything with them (see here). You can even cram them up your ass and then blog about it. Ask your mother, she has a whole website dedicated to that endeavor.
But one of the simplest things you can do with an egg is turn it into a sandwich. When I was growing up, my mother sometimes made me egg salad sandwiches, and I still love to eat them today when I don’t have much in the kitchen. Would balut make a good egg salad sandwich?
There was only one way to find out! By going balls deep!
First of all, however, I would have to try balut for the first time. I had no idea if we even had it here in Chicago. But we do. You can get it at this fun little place called Tai Nam Market in Uptown, which has all sorts of Southeast Asian goodies you can’t find anywhere else. They are right next to the regular eggs so look carefully in case you accidentally come home with a surprise. They have both duck and chicken balut — I used duck, but also bought some chicken ones to try later.
All you have to do is boil some water and put them in for 20 minutes, pull them out, and let them cool off until you can handle them. When you boil them, you’ll notice a very peculiar thing: The balut eggs all stand up on end when you put them in water. Oh boy.
To be honest, I was a little (really) scared. I didn’t know if I would get upset looking at the baby duck. Once you gently tap open the shell, you’re supposed to drink the liquid inside. I closed my eyes when I did it.
It turns out the liquid from balut is absolutely delicious. It tastes like a mix of duck stock with a pleasantly strong egg yolk flavor. Many chefs would kill to have their soup turn out this way. Turns out all you have to do is, uh, boil a baby.
Peeling the egg is challenging when your little fingers are trembling while trying to do it for the first time. I was also by myself so nobody could see me get scared. What came out was definitely disturbing to look at. After I peeled it, the fetus just fell off the egg onto the cutting board. I picked it up and placed it gently on the yolk where it came from and I showed Harvey and Mr. Bee.
They looked at it and didn’t say anything, mostly because they’re stuffed animals and the LSD hadn’t kicked in yet. But they didn’t seem upset, as you can see.
I just topped the egg with some fleur de sel (fancy sea salt) and shoved the yolk and the embryo in my mouth before I had the chance to stop myself. And suddenly, I felt relief. I was rewarded with a mouthful of creamy egg yolk that tasted just like duck; the yolk had a smooth texture without any graininess, and the duck baby tasted slightly like liver but with that slightly gamy duck-meat flavor.
I did it. I finally tried balut. And it was very, very, good. There are feathers and bones, but in this version they hadn’t formed much and I didn’t feel any other than a few very small crisp bits.
It turns out you can’t eat balut egg white. It turns into the texture of a bouncy ball — it’s very, very, hard to the touch, so I peeled it off (it came off naturally) and tossed it. I chopped up the yolk and the baby, mixed it with a touch of mayo, finely minced red onion and celery, and finished it with a sprinkle of salt and a tiny dash of fermented fish sauce.
And here’s the sandwich, topped with pickled daikon radish and carrots. It looks a little loose, like your mom. I put it on a Chinese bakery bun, took my first bite, and entered heaven.
This sandwich tasted like a mix of rich duck meat and eggs bound with mayonnaise, with the savory component punched up via fish sauce. Honestly, if I hadn’t known it was balut, I would have just thought it was an egg salad sandwich with duck confit in it.
I ate the whole thing in less than five minutes.
But the game wasn’t over yet. I still had one more balut egg left. This one I reserved for a Scotch Egg. A Scotch Egg is a genius culinary invention from Great Britain, where you take a hard-boiled egg, wrap it in sausage meat, dip it in breadcrumbs, then fry (or bake) it. You can sometimes find them in “British-style” pubs in America. They’re really good for you, if you want to die early. That’s why I eat six a day.
I didn’t have any sausage (other than my penis, anyway), so I thought, “Oh, what the fuck.”
And I grabbed the can of Spam.
Spam comes out of the can in one large rectangle, and isn’t naturally sausagey, so I put the block into the food processor and pulsed it until it had a coarse, ground sausage-like texture to it.
At room temperature, Spam doesn’t hold up well to forming patties without sticking to everything, so I took cellophane wrap and laid the Spam on it. I placed the balut (minus egg whites) on top and pulled the plastic up like a purse, creating an egg-like shape, which I then put in the freezer to firm up for a bit. I’m a goddamn genius.
Blah blah blah, more cooking technique, blah blah. Coated the Spam-balut ball in flour, dipped it in a beaten egg, rolled it in panko breadcrumbs, repeated the dipping one more time, blah blah blah. Penis penis ass, balls ass cock. I hate having to write all these tiny bits and steps like I’m trying to become a cooking TV show host. I’d be the worst show host ever. I’d constantly hit on my guests and cry when they won’t go out with me, then I’d pour hot cooking oil all over my crotch and every episode would end up with me in the hospital, being treated for 3rd degree burns on my dong.
So anyway, I fried this giant testicle-like Spam and duck baby thing in the Dutch oven until it looked good.
I put too much Spam on this thing and it fell apart a little, but whatever, that’s life. It starts out hopefully then your expectations crumble when you get to the finish line, and that’s when you die a horrible death.
The sauce is dijon mustard, mayo, and a tiny bit more fish sauce, which is a good condiment for metaphors about life and death.
The Balut Spam Scotch Egg is a winning combination. If you’re going to Spam-wrap anything I’d use a little less than I did, since it’s extremely salty and fatty. But in essence, the Balut Spam Scotch Egg is a hand-grenade of egg, duck, hammy meaty nitrates, salt, which is then fried to a crisp, and is packed with flavor. The sharp mustard sauce cuts through the fact that you’re eating an unborn baby. But if they taste this good, you can be forgiven for your culinary indiscretions.
It’s no coincidence that this post was put up a day after Easter — after all, some of you guys have a ton of eggs to deal with (just imagine some the horror on some shitty kid’s face as they crack open a balut egg). And if you believe in the symbolism of the Easter Egg, new life, and rebirth, well, congratulations then, eating balut is like eating an unrisen zombie Jesus!
So really, the moral of the story is, if you’re scared to try something, just do it, dingus (except maybe for smoking crack and like, murder). The dumb guy who ate duck fetuses will be here rooting for you. Also, I wrote this post on my birthday. I can’t think of any better present than knowing some of you guys suffered and gagged through this whole post.
I love you guys. Bye…forever.