Balut at Penoy
Presenting the two most popular street food delicacy in the Philippines. Balut is a hardboiled duck egg with a partially duck embryo inside while Penoy is a hardboiled infertile incubated duck egg.
Balut and Penoy, two of the oldest street food eggs that predates even the popular Kwek Kwek and Tokneneng. If you have been to the Philippines and stayed in the villages at night then most probably you would have heard a mobile street vendor peddling this duck egg, where he/she usually shouts in a loud voice “Baluuuuuuuuuuuut” to attract attention of people inside the house or to break through noisy group of people telling stories over large amounts of alcohol like beer and gin.
What is Balut and Penoy?
Balut and Penoy are both made with incubated duck eggs, one with embryo another one without. Balut means “wrapped” which describes the process of covering the inside bags during its incubation process. The perfect balut is incubated for 17 to 18 days while its embryo is still wrapped with a whitish covering and has not yet fully developed, locally known as “balut sa puti” which literally means “wrapped in white.” If there are no embryos that develop during this time, it is considered infertile and will be sold as a Penoy. In identifying whether a duck egg could be sold as a balut or penoy, balut makers utilize the process of candling where eggs are screened against a lighted candle or electric bulb during the 11th and 17th day of incubation. If it shows a spider-like structure or have a dark spot at the centre the egg will be sold as a balut, otherwise if its translucent this will then be sold as penoy.
So penoy is just a rejected balut. Penoy have different varieties as well, first is “Penoy na may sabaw” where the egg contains a balut-like broth while “penoy na tuyo” is a lot similar with hard-boiled chicken eggs. There is another third variety of Penoy which is called “abnoy”, Filipino slang for “abnormal”, this is then determined by the smell of the egg, if the penoy is starting to spoil, it will give off a strong sulphur smell when exposed to air. Although its technically rotten, it is still used on some delicacies such as Bibingkang Itlog, basically a rotten egg omelette and sold by placing on a piece of banana leaf, sounds unpalatable but people swear by its deliciousness.
The practice of making incubated eggs was believed to be brought by Chinese traders to the Philippines when they settled along the shorelines of Laguna de Bay during the 16th century, since then everything was history and became a big part of the Filipino culture and tradition, so big wherever Filipinos migrated for work, a large market for balut would develop even here in New Zealand Asian and Filipino shops started selling them but unlike in the Philippines where it is sold cooked here they are raw and it’s up to you to cook them.
How to Cook
Cooking is quite simple all you need is to put raw balut on a steamer then steam it for 25 minutes. For Penoy you cook it like hard boiling chicken eggs, 15 minutes for perfect hardboiled egg, 11 minutes for medium boiled and 7 for soft boiled. To keep it warm, wrap it around a warm cloth on a basket like how balut vendors do it.
How to eat Balut and Penoy
Eating them is straightforward, form Penoy treat it like you usual egg, penoy when cracked would look like an egg where its yolk and whites have joined together. It is usually enjoyed with a pinch of salt.
for Balut its quite different, and usually consumed in different stages. First crack the top and slightly peel the embryonic sac to reveal a small opening for you to slurp the embryonic fluid, a pinch of salt the drink the soup. It tastes like a very potent chicken soup. Once the soup is consumed gently crack it open to reveal three different sections, the duck embryo, the yolk and the white part which we call bato (stone). The order in eating them is up to you, for me I keep the best for last so I start with the embryo, dipping it in vinegar and eat it whole. I usually don’t eat the bato because its hard but some people eat them, then finally the best part which is the yolk, with a pinch of salt, this is the tastiest and creamiest yolk you will ever try.
Now, why do Filipinos eat this a lot? As kids, we were told its good for you, in fact a lot of the elders say “Pangpatibay ng tuhod” or “To Strengthen your knees”, referring to folding or knees giving up after having sex. They also said it is good for male libido, giving you a longer lasting energy in bed. It may be true becuase balut or even any eggs pack a lot of nutrition. 14 grams of protein, 188 calories, and around 100 milligrams of calcium for each egg. Also gives you 22% Fat, 14% Vitamin A and 22% Iron of daily RDA.