8 Surprised Things About Balut Eggs in Vietnam

Balut eggs have become one of the popular street foods in Vietnam. Although this dish is rich in nutrients, it is also controversial because of its humanity.

balut egg
Vietnamese balut egg. ©Vietnamdrive

Let’s find out the facts about this strange food!

First of all, it should be noted that there are many types of balut eggs of quail, chicken, and duck; but duck eggs are the most common. So in this article, when referring to balut eggs, we are talking about this type of duck egg.

Another thing is that balut or balut egg means “trứng vịt lộn” or “hột vịt lộn” in Vietnamese.

1. Transforming the Vietnamese way of producing balut eggs

It is not known exactly when eating balut eggs existed in Vietnam, but certainly, this dish is associated with agricultural culture in rice cultivation and livestock raising.

Ducks are water-loving animals. Based on the advantages of fields and thick rivers in Vietnam, farmers have raised a lot of ducks to get meat and eggs.

For breeding, owners take eggs from ducks to incubate. However, egg warming relies on rough tools and experience, so batches of eggs are not 100%.

In order not to waste, the eggs that cannot be hatched are treated by feeding to livestock or by boiling them to eat; such eggs contain a lot of nutrients.

Gradually, eating these eggs has become a favorite dish of diners. Since eggs damaged during the incubation of ducklings are not enough supply, the technique of mid-incubation of duck eggs was born to meet everyone’s needs.

Then, duck eggs are incubated for 14-19 days (the best 16 – 17 days) when the duck fetus is formed and will be sold to boiled-eggs sellers and supplied to diners.

From taking advantage of food sources to not be wasted, balut eggs have become a business; and since then, it has caused a lot of controversies: Is it humane to eat balut eggs?

2. Balut eggs are always served with laksa leaves

You will see the sellers always give you Vietnamese hot mint (laksa leaves) with balut eggs even though you don’t mention this vegetable. This is the default in the way of selling and eating fertilized and boiled duck eggs in Vietnam.

hot vit lon
Eating “Hot Vit Lon” with Vietnamese mint. ©Vietnamdrive

Why is it?

From a cultural perspective in cuisine, Vietnamese people often apply the balance of yin and yang for most ways of eating. Duck eggs have extremely strong yin, Vietnamese hot mint leaves have high yang properties. The combination of spicy laksa leaves will neutralize the negative fishy taste of eggs for better digestion and better taste.

In terms of nutrition, boiled duck eggs are quite rich in protein and minerals. The supplying of too many nutrients into the body at once will cause a lot of physiological desire, it is necessary to limit the need by eating hot mint. The reason is that laksa leaves considered one of the famous Vietnamese herbs have substances that can reduce human physiological needs, especially for men.

In some places selling balut also comes with ginger fish sauce, and sweet and sour papaya. Ginger helps to get good digestion when eating eggs with too much protein and protein, sweet and sour papaya provides fiber and adds vegetable vitamins, reducing the feeling of fatigue when eating.

It can be seen that the complete ingredients to eat fertilized duck eggs boiled include many ingredients, not only duck eggs but also ginger sauce, laksa leaves, sweet and sour papaya, salt, and pepper. The high nutritional value of balut eggs cannot be denied, but these extra ingredients contribute significantly to making the dish more interesting.

3. Although it is recommended to eat balut duck eggs in the morning, people still eat more in the evening

Balut contains a lot of protein and cholesterol that is difficult to digest, so it is better to eat this food in the morning and at noon than in the evening. However, you will find that Vietnamese people like to eat “hot vit lon” in the late afternoon, evening, and late at night. Paradoxically, but there’re reasons?

The first reason is that in the morning, most people can’t sit and sip, and slowly separate each eggshell to eat. Besides, balut eggs have an unpleasant fishy smell when brought to the office, so not many people bring breakfast with this food to work to eat.

Next, Vietnamese people like to have a light breakfast that doesn’t need much protein or vitamins. The main meal will be lunch and dinner, more importantly, is still dinner when protein-rich dishes are prepared and eaten. Therefore, the habit of choosing balut eggs at night is also formed from that thought and need.

Third, boiled duck eggs are a portion of easy-to-find, affordable street food. After boys and girls walk around the city, the time comes when they want to find something that is not too big like Vietnamese bread, just small to fill the stomach, then balut will be a perfect choice. Does not fill the stomach, but has enough energy for the activities of youth.

For the above reasons, boiled egg sellers also often prepare this food, or bring them to sell from after 3 pm. If it is earlier, you won’t find any place that sells balut to eat right away in Vietnam.

>> You may see the 10 famous facts in Vietnam.

4. The place selling balut often comes with an oil lamp

Every night when night falls, at many crossroads, you will see kerosene lamps. That is a sign of a place that sells balut eggs.

selling bulut egg
Selling balut with a lamp. ©Vietnamdrive

Before, when there was no electricity, the oil lamp was a source of light that many people used to dispel the darkness. A place selling at night, like an egg place, had kerosene lamps to attract consumers.

At the same time, the oil lamp is a tool for the seller to examine the eggs to see if the eggs are old or young. It means that is to know whether the duck eggs have large or small ducklings. Depending on the taste of the eater, the seller chooses suitable eggs.

Although, nowadays, electricity is almost everywhere, and electricity can also help to check eggs, using oil lamps has become a habit of the balut sellers. Every time you see a kerosene lamp, you know exactly where to go, unmistakably.

5. There are two twin sisters with fertilized duck eggs boiled

There are not only balut duck eggs but there are other variations of it, halfway brooding eggs and rotten eggs that you can find at the place that sells balut.

If balut eggs have been incubated for a certain number of days (often 16 – 19 days), selected to be sold to a user, then halfway brooding eggs are a type of eggs that cannot form fetuses and are usually incubated for half the number of days of incubation before it is released by the owner.

At that time, the whites and yolks of the brooding eggs have broken apart and blended together. You can see a few red threads of the veins, but the eggs don’t smell bad yet.

The next one is the rotten egg, which is an unfertilized duck egg, so it cannot form a fetus and is incubated for nearly the full number of days of balut. Then, the owner finds out. At that time, this type of egg already had a rotten smell due to the decomposition of the egg white and yolk.

However, these eggs are still not discarded, still marked for sale to consumers in need. Many people believe that eating this halfway brooding or rotten egg will reduce the possibility of dizziness caused when sitting and standing up suddenly (?). Certainly, rotten eggs and halfway hatched eggs are much cheaper than fresh balut eggs.

6. You can choose the type of balut eggs with tiny fetuses inside

Many people who try to eat duck eggs for the first time should choose eggs with young duck fetuses because you will be surprised and scared when you see the whole duck with full feathers, eyes, beak…

Vietnamese balut eggs
You can buy a Hot Vit Lon with a tiny fetus. ©Vietnamdrive

So, when buying balut duck eggs, tell the seller to choose according to your needs and preferences. Sellers are very good at distinguishing between large and small duck-fetus eggs, good or bad eggs.

The skill of looking at balut on oil lamps to identify old or young fetuses is one of the techniques that are widely applied. That’s the reason as mentioned above, the seller of balut eggs often comes with an oil lamp.

Experienced balut sellers get very few errors when choosing young or old fetus eggs according to customer requirements. Moreover, due to more developed incubation techniques, even in the incubator house, eggs have been classified by age for easy selling.

So, tell your needs to the boiled egg seller to provide you with the right egg for your needs and risk appetite when trying this unique dish for the first time.

7. Eggs with lots of water are delicious eggs

Every time you break a balut duck egg to eat, you will see water coming out, more or less depending on each egg. However, according to experience, balut eggs that contain a lot of water are more delicious.

More water indicates that the egg is fresh, just boiled. If the egg is left for a long time, or boiled over and over again, it will dry out and the taste will not be attractive. Do not choose fertilized duck eggs boiled over and over again.

If the egg does not have water inside, it will often crack, causing the nutritional value to be affected, eating the egg will feel dry and fleshy, not as interesting as a fresh egg with a lot of water.

Therefore, when selecting boiled duck eggs, you should remove cracked eggs, showing signs of being boiled over and over again (usually feeling light). Buying from reputable places will be a good choice to have tasty balut.

vietnamese balut duck egg
More juice in the egg is tasty. ©Vietnamdrive

8. Balut duck eggs with feathers inside

The inside of a balut duck egg sometimes has feathers if the egg has an old fetus. This will create a feeling of dread for many people when eating for the first time.

For many first-time eaters, they will pick up the feathers. However, doing this to some Vietnamese is useless, because these young feathers do not harm them and do not reduce their appetite.

The older the egg, the more protein, as well as other micronutrients. So, with lots of people being used to eating balut, the older the eggs are, the more they like to enjoy.

So, always mention that you don’t like eating eggs with feathers to the seller, they will help you choose the right size of balut eggs.

Did you know that Vietnamese people have an interesting old saying: Eat that is good for that -:)? Maybe your body also needs to add more or less these feathers !!!??? Hahaha…

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.