Contrary to popular belief, the balut / balot is not a Philippine exclusive. It can also be found in other Asian countries such as Vietnam, China and Cambodia.
It is believed to be an aphrodisiac and considered a high-protein, hearty snack, baluts are mostly sold by street vendors at night in the regions where they are available. Balut are most often eaten with a pinch of salt though some balut-eaters prefer chili and vinegar to complement their egg. The eggs are savored for their balance of textures and flavors; the broth surrounding the embryo is sipped from the egg before the shell is peeled and the yolk and young chick inside can be eaten. All of the contents of the egg are consumed.
In the Philippines, the balut has entered classy dining places by being served as appetizers in restaurants: cooked adobo style, fried in omelletes. Dinners at the Presidential Palace during Marcos' time were said to have pastries stuffed with the egg without the knowledge of the guests. This was in line with Imelda's vision of globalizing Filipino food.
The best balut, they say, should be 17 days old ("balut sa puti"). This when the chick isn't well-developed yet. Underdeveloped duck eggs, however, are called penoy and look and have the consistency of normal boiled eggs.
Do you know that balut-making is the major industry in Pateros? Read their story here.