You just got home from work and you look in the refrigerator and there is nothing but the balut that your Filipino neighbor left as a Christmas gift. Not balut again, you think, but you also remember how juicy and delicious they are when reheated to perfection.
Reheating balut is a lot more difficult than reheating hard-boiled eggs. The temperature has to be just right to get the mix of feathers, beak, brains and yolk that make balut so delicious.
You can reheat your balut in the microwave if you take great care, on the stovetop in boiling water, or in a warm convection oven. A toaster oven is an option as a last resort, but you might break the eggshell. Enjoy your balut with a traditional drink such as a beer.
What is Balut?
Balut is a duck egg that has been fertilized and left to develop for up to two weeks. Inside the eggshell, you will find a baby bird and a bit of egg yolk that remains. The brains of the little bird will liquify if you reheat your balut just right.
Balut is a Filipina delicacy that is rumored to give you strength and to improve your libido. When I was on rest and recreation from my third tour in Vietnam, I went to the Philippines and ate balut every day. The expression we used was “eat the balut, avoid the bullet.” Balut gave me just enough strength to return to Vietnam and have a successful kill count.
I also felt an extreme rise of libido and when I got back to Vietnam, I must have fathered about a dozen of my offspring. If you ever see a Vietnamese guy around the age of 53 that looks like a balding old gringo, it is probably my son.
Why is Balut so Difficult to Reheat?
Balut is a combination of a baby bird and an egg. The egg part of the balut is easy to reheat. The feathers, brains, beak, feet and body of the baby duck are very delicate and need to be eaten at precisely 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
At 170 degrees, the feathers will loosen slightly from the rest of the body, and when you eat the balut you will feel as if your mouth were flying. The brains will liquefy and you can slurp them down with some salt. When you slurp the brains, you can almost feel the consciousness of the baby duck entering your mind. It can either be a mind shrinking or mind expanding experience, depending on your IQ.
It is said that if a man in the Philippines eats a balut that is not heated right by his wife; he may divorce her. I wouldn’t go so far, but I would definitely restrict her television viewing.
How to Reheat your Balut
Reheating your balut in the microwave is a crapshoot. If you get lucky, you will get the right temperature. The best way to reheat your balut is if you have a microwave that has a balut reheat button. Unfortunately, most of these microwaves are in the Philippines.
Gingerly set the microwave to thirty seconds. Place the balut on a soft surface such as a paper towel. A bird’s nest is preferred if you can find one. Reheat the balut on high for thirty seconds. You will know you were successful if the egg doesn’t explode.
If the egg explodes, the interior of the microwave will be full of feathers, brains and other bird parts. It is possible to scrape up all the bird parts and eat the balut with a spoon. The flavor will be about the same.
There are two options for stovetop heating. You can try to reheat the balut in the shell to the perfect 170 degrees in a pan of water. You will need to use a thermometer to do this correctly. Submerge the entire balut in the water, or it will reheat unevenly.
The other option is to fry the balut, attempting to make an egg-baby bird omelet. Add some cheese and onions. Balut omelets are a specialty of the MImaropa Region of the Philippines.
It is said that Ferdinand Marcos, the ex-dictator of the Philippines, used to eat three balut omelets per day. His wife Imelda ate too much balut and ended up buying a million pairs of shoes.
The conventional oven is big enough to reheat a whole gaggle of balut. Use this option if you are going to have a balut party, or if your appetite for balut is so great that you feel like eating a balut baker’s dozen. There is only one thing that can go wrong when you reheat your balut in the oven.
Make sure the temperature of the balut is greater than 120 degrees but less than 200. If you put the eggs in the oven at less than 120 degrees, the oven will act as an incubator. It is said that many Filipino women have opened the oven door to a whole brood of ducklings because they left the balut in the oven too long at too low of a temperature.
Don’t worry if this happens to you. Just take the ducks and give them some corn for about a year and you can make Peking Duck. The duck will be much fresher than the duck you can buy in the store. Plus, you can use the duck manure as a fertilizer for your worm farm.
The biggest worry is if you cook the balut too long at too high of a temperature and the eggs explode. The feathers will completely coat the inside of the oven. It is rumored that Filipino ovens have actually flown away after an untrained chef heated the balut too much. The feathers are lighter than air and can make the oven float away like a hot-air balloon.
Have you ever had Peking Toasted Duck? Careful with this method or you might end up eating it. Toaster ovens heat so fast that you risk going over 170 degrees. It takes two exploding balut to make your toaster fly sky high. A man put a balut baker’s dozen of eggs in the toaster oven and they exploded. His toaster flew all the way around the world before it landed right in his backyard!
How to Eat your Balut
Eating the balut is a very delicate process. First, make a small indentation at the top of the egg. Break the shell out until there is a small hole. Put a dash of salt in the hole. Suck the bird brains out of the hole. It will taste a little like oysters and urine.
Once you have sucked the brains, you can peel the rest of the balut. You notice that half of the balut is egg yolk, and the other half of the balut is a baby bird. Don’t look at the balut if it makes you sick. Simply put some salt on it and shove the whole thing into your mouth. Be sure to chew because the beak can get caught in your throat.
Wash your balut down with your favorite beverage. Most people eat balut with beer. If you want to know what balut with beer tastes like, just eat a hard-boiled egg and wash it down with beer. Otherwise, the balut goes down well with a shot of whisky, tequila, rum, vodka, or all four.
Balut digestion takes a little time. If you are unfortunate, the duck embryo can mature while it is in your gut. You may notice you fart feathers. You might feel a pecking in your stomach. Don’t worry if this happens to you. The baby ducks will pass through your system and you will find them floating and cheeping in your toilet.
Balut can be a tricky food to reheat. Make sure you heat it to 170 degrees if you want it to be perfect. You can use the stove top oven, the microwave, the conventional oven or a toaster oven to reheat your balut.
Big Bird has launched a campaign on Sesame Street to stop the proliferation of balut in the United States. Big Bird claims that balut should be illegal because it is a bird abortion. It is yet to be determined if Big Bird’s campaign will be a success.