Living up to Stereotype: Eating Balut/Khai Luk (fetal duck egg)

I want to start a regular entry called “Living up to the Stereotype”. It’s main focus is, for me as an Asian-American, to live up to the American stereotypes of Asians (what is unfortunately an amalgamation of a diversity of Asian cultures). For example, Americans would believe that any Chinese person was notorious for eating dog meat. That isn’t always the case. I’ve only learned recently that Koreans, too, eat dog meat. Yet, the most vocal of opposition are the Korean-Americans. Rather than denouncing their roots, they should embrace it. Apparently, when Americans impose themselves in other countries, they don’t denounce their hamburger and fries diet to impress their hosts. So the next time I get called a “dog-eater”, it won’t be offensive simply for needing to be offensive (which would be quite stupid to feel offended for something you’re not), then I can smack my lips and rub my hands, Lady Bird looks tasty. Most importantly, it’s about combating the shame that doesn’t need to be there. This is America, and ALL sorts of cultures should be able to co-exist without feeling marginalized.

Balut/Khai Luk

Saelee, Jackson, and the fetal duck egg

Saelee, Jackson, and the fetal duck egg

Fetal duck egg in a bowl

Fetal duck egg in a bowl

Balut is a delicacy in some Southeast Asian cultures. It’s also known as Khai Luk in Thailand. It’s hard to imagine that with all the high drama voicing disgust over the dish, in images and articles from a simple Internet search, could actually taste so good. Coming from a Southeast Asian-American upbringing, I ate my first fetal duck egg when I must have been about 3 or 4 years old. When you’re young and naive (maybe even ignorant), the thought of eating the limp (and lest we not forget) dead duckling is frightening and disgusting. Only after almost two decades of developing a keen sense of taste do I realize it’s actually very good. Heck, it melts in your mouth.

Fetal duckling

Fetal duckling

Quack, quack, qua--

Quack, quack, qua--

First step to opening a boiled fetal duck egg is to locate which polar side is hollow. The duckling cooked in its own amniotic fluids, so no doubt when you crack it open, you don’t want it spilling all over the place. You can put the egg up to a light and the most translucent end is the side you crack open. You only crack a little tip, then suck out the broth. You can even season it at this point with some salt and black pepper. I find it’s best when still hot.

Boiled fetal duck egg - Mmm-mm good

Boiled fetal duck egg - Mmm-mm good

There are 3 parts to a boiled fetal duck egg. The duckling itself, its placenta, and the hard white part (which I learned is actually food for the duckling when it incubates). The cooked duckling is shades of gray to dark brown. It can either start having feathers already or may just look like a blood clot you blew out your nose. The placenta resembles the yellow chicken egg yolk and depending on how well-cooked it is, is either gloopy or soft like a hard-boiled chicken egg yolk. The white part is a little harder, reminding me of older coconut meat. It may look unappetizing, but I’m sure it’s an excellent source of protein. And, when done right, tastes good.

Quack, quack, quack, noooo don't eat meee

Quack, quack, quack, noooo don't eat meee

Crunch! Man, duckling beaks are crunchy

Crunch! Man, duckling beaks are crunchy

This, along with some chili paste and sticky rice, makes an awesome snack. However, I find that if you eat too much of it, you’ll end up ducking in a toilet later. Moderation is key to enjoying good things. Now, where’s that snickering dog from Duck Hunt? He’s next.

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