No, I am not planning to replace Andrew Zimmern on Bizarre Food or Anthony Bourdain: I was just curious and had been wanting to try the Filipino dish that is balut for a while. For sure, for Jodi, it was out of question to come with me as she was grossed out at the simple idea to see me eating this.
So, what is balut? It is a duck egg that is 14 to 17 days old, served as street food in Philippines, but also found in other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam or Laos. I ate it at Jeepney, a Filipino gastropub located in the East Village that I found one day, while going to have pizza at Luzzo's, my favorite Neapolitan pizzeria in town.
I admit that I was not sure I would be able to eat the balut: it is not the most visually appetizing dish I ever seen and, looking at photos on the internet, some of them showing people gagging when eating it, I was not sure what reaction I would have. On top of that, they sat me right in front of a pretty gross photo of balut... But my culinary curiosity and pride helped me succeed in this challenge. I knew the dish was coming when I heard a loud "Baluuuuuut!" coming from the kitchen pass and the cheering from the staff.
Here it was, in front of me. I realized at that point that I did not know how to eat it and asked the waiter for some help. He told me to crack the top, drink the liquid and then scoop the inside with a spoon. So, I did it...
I found it delicious: I was imagining tasting some small bones or cartilage, a bit like the texture of soft shell crab even, but it was soft and melted in my mouth. It was like a hard boiled egg with a bit of a gamey taste. The only thing I could not eat was the white part, that you may see on the bottom right photo, that was too hard.
I was curious to know where they get this $4 delicacy and they told me that they get it from a farm in Connecticut.
Of course, it was not the only dish I tried. I also ordered a Silog breakfast that is apparently a traditional Filipino breakfast, served with garlic rice, a fried egg and some relish. I chose the longsilog one, that was served with a longganisa, a sweet and garlicky sausage.
That was a great brunch dish and the high point was definitely the sausage that was not as garlicky as they said, deliciously sweet and had a wonderful char on the outside. The egg was perfectly cooked and runny, fantastic with the garlic rice (well, you need to like garlic...).
I really had a very good brunch at Jeepney and was glad to have tried the balut. I just need now to convince Jodi to have balut instead of turkey for Thanksgiving, but it might be a tough sell...
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