Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Balut or Khai-Louk

Balut, I'm getting comfy with you all. I actually debated on posting these pictures in case any of you all were squeamish. You can tell these pictures are older (from the summer, because Piglet looks so different than she does now). The girls and I love Balut. Flavorful. Savory. I'll try to explain the flavor a bit. Through pictures and my sorry writing.
First off all what is Balut? It is an Asian delicacy, a fertilized duck or chicken egg. The embryo is usually 15-17 days old, older in different countries. Steamed or boiled then served with salt and pepper, chili vinegar or a chili sauce. And herbs, and for beer drinkers a cold beer.  In Lao we call it Khai-louk (literally "egg" and "baby").

The following is from Wikipedia-
Fertilized duck eggs are kept warm in the sun and stored in baskets to retain warmth. After nine days, the eggs are held to a light to reveal the embryo inside. Approximately eight days later the Balut are ready to be cooked, sold, and eaten.
When eating Khai-louk, you tap the top of the egg and remove a little bit of the shell. The broth surrounding the embryo is very flavorful, if all chicken broth/stock could be that flavorful without any addition of herbs, spices or salt. This is one of my favorite parts and my girls also. A true Amuse Bouche I think the flavor encompasses all of what's to come as you enjoy the rest of the Khai-louk. Just an intense chicken flavor. (And I don't like chicken. There I said it, I only make so much chicken because DH likes it.) Usually we eat the Kahi-louk out of the shell with a small spoon. The whole thing is edible (ok not the shell).
You can sprinkle the sauce or salt and pepper right into there and use the shell as a cup. I guess you could dump it out onto a plate...
This embryo is more than 15 days old but, still good.  The bones and feathers are under developed. Which is my preference.
The only part I leave, and most people I know leave is the tough whites. It's not worth my time, it's like chewing on extra touch cartilage. My dad eats them for me. The yellow part of the Khai-louk is creamy and tender. It does NOT taste like a boiled egg yolk, it's so much more flavorful than that and just GOOD. See, can't explain it.
Pretty good detail on my little camera...
The embryo, that's what you're all waiting for right? It isn't chewy like chicken, and if properly incubated it's not crunchy or feathery - are you all tossing cookies? Sorry. It's soft, very flavorful  (I've said that like 5 times...) succulent. It's not gamey, it's ... Umami without the MSG.
Piglet, going to town.
You can find Khai-louk or Balut in most Asian grocery stores for about 80 cents or so each. Worth it in my opinion.
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