Eating Fetal Duck Egg in Saigon (Balut)

Let’s discover one of the Top 10 weirdest (but freaking yummy) foods from around the world right here in Saigon: trứng vịt lộn aka fully formed duck egg, and even more ;)

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Not only Western countries have bizarre foods which surprise tourists. Most Asian nations do too. A lot of the stranger foods originate from tropical areas, and Vietnam is no exception. Today, let’s discover one of the Top 10 weirdest (but freaking yummy) foods from around the world right here in Saigon: trung vit lon (balut) aka fully formed duck egg, and even more 😉

Balut
This egg contains more than a yolk!

Fully-Formed, Half-Formed Duck Egg, and Fully Formed Quail Egg (FFDE, HFDE and FFQE)

Trung vit lon aka fully-formed duck egg is a nutritious and popular food in Vietnam even though it looks a little bit scary to Western and international tourists. You can find a similar dish in the Philippines called balut.

Many people think balut in Philippines and FFDE in Vietnam are the same, but they’re actually quite different. Filipino baluts are incubated from 16 days so you can find baluts at any developing states, while FFDE in Vietnam are incubated until a baby duck is formed which takes 19 to 21 days. Another difference is that Vietnamese people usually enjoy them with a kind of herb called laksa leaves whereas the Filipinos don’t.

Balut
Laksa leaves and sweet and sour sauce

The reason why people around the world find this food creepy is that the egg contains a duck fetus and you can see its beak, feet, and feathers very clearly after breaking the shell. Sounds a bit frightening, doesn’t it?

But don’t worry, it’s completely legal in Vietnam, and you definitely won’t be convicted for eating a duck egg with a baby duck inside. And believe me, the taste is very different to the look.

Balut
How to eat trứng vịt lộn

There are two ways to eat FFDE. One is to pull the duck fetus completely out of the eggshell and put it in a small bowl. You then enjoy it slowly, piece by piece, accompanied by the irreplaceable herb and a mixture of salt, pepper, and chili. You can also add kumquat juice to the mix it if you like a sour flavor. The second way might make the food a bit less scary for you. Put the narrow end of the egg in a tiny bowl and then use a small spoon to crack the wider end. Drink the soup which appears during cooking process first, and then eat the rest of the egg without looking at the whole baby duck.

As you’re eating it, the aromatic scent of pepper and kumquat along with the spicy chili will not only drown out the pungent smell of duck egg but also harmonize the flavors providing you with one of the most exceptional food experiences ever.

But that’s not all there is to know about FFDE. Vietnamese people don’t just eat it in the traditional way. We’ve created many varieties of delicious FFDE dishes. One of these is fried duck egg with tamarind sauce.

Filipino baluts are incubated from 16 days so you can find baluts at any developing states, while FFDE in Vietnam are incubated until a baby duck is formed which takes 19 to 21 days.

Fully formed duck egg (FFDE) and fully-formed duck egg with tamarind sauce

The sweet and sour sauce is added after cooking the duck eggs in a hot pan and is the reason why the dish is so popular. Additions to the accompaniments like peanuts and laksa leaves combine to give the food a unique and unforgettable taste.

Balut

Let’s watch the video and see how our expert overcomes this culinary challenge.

Half-formed duck egg (HFDE) and fully-formed quail egg (FFQE)

Now, it’s time for the foods that you’ll only find in Vietnam: half-formed duck egg and fully-formed quail egg.

They’re crazily popular among the Vietnamese locals, especially those who like drinking and hanging out with friends at sidewalk beer shops. It seems like nobody can figure out the origin of these foods and maybe no one really cares as long as they have that indescribably yummy taste.

balut
Fully-formed quail egg (Trứng cút lộn)

The fully-formed quail egg looks the same as the fully-formed duck egg except it’s a third of the size. Consequently, people usually have from 5 to 10 quail eggs each time they order. Sounds too much to handle, right? But believe me, you’ll probably want more. This food can be eaten with tamarind sauce just like a fully-formed duck egg. Keep reading until the end of the article to find out where to find these amazing dishes.

balut
Half-formed duck egg (A.K.A trứng vịt vữa)

And last but not least, here comes the half-formed duck egg. Many foreigners call them “half-formed” because they’re not incubated until the embryos form into a duck but stop when the yolk and the egg white mix, making the food a lovely yellow color. Moreover, it’s soft on the outside and spongy on the inside. You only need to boil the eggs for 8-10 minutes, then enjoy them in the same way you do the fully-formed ones.

Where to find HFDE and FFQE in Saigon

You can find half-formed, fully-formed duck eggs, and fully-formed quail eggs on any cart on the street which has very loud, long, and unique call sign (you can listen to it in the video, so you know what it sounds like). Who knows? If you find it interesting, you can try to learn it off by heart. It can even be your first Vietnamese sentence! Remember, only these carts serve the half-formed duck egg. You can’t find it in anywhere else.

balut
The cart selling trứng vịt lộn

***Many snail restaurants in Sai Gon serve FFDE and FFQE with tamarind sauce, but Onetrip knows the best. Check it out in the video.

General information:

Name of dish: FFDE with tamarind sauce.
Name of restaurant: Ốc Oanh
Opening hours: Generally from late afternoon till night
Address: 534 Vinh Khanh St., Ward 10, Dist 4, Ho Chi Minh City

Price: 2000 – 20000VND depending on what you order

Notes for eating FFDE:

– You should eat it with laksa or ginger leaves to balance digestion.
– It can be eaten both in the morning or evening but in the morning is recommended.
– Only eat two eggs per week.
– Children under five should not eat FFDE.
– People with high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease should not eat FFDE.

So, feeling brave, are ya? Have a go at it and post your adventures in the comments! If you also want some more fun, YouTube has a lot of balut-related videos that are always hilarious to watch!

Enjoy eating Vietnamese food and wanna know some more fun info on certain dishes such as com tambanh trang nuongbot chien, and bun cha? Find these and more at the Christina’s blog!

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