I got back from Asia last night, still feeling the effects of the 12,500 mile flight and 12 time zone change and not being able to sleep so I made it into work at about 3.30 this morning. Am currently fading fast, but wanted to post this first.
I have a lot I could write about, but really its the exotic food that gets me every time I go traveling. I was out there for a wedding (Hong Kong) as well as some diving (Philippines). I also met up with a few of the Snooth investors who are based out there, so think of it as nearly a work related trip. One of the investors in particular, Ryan Moynagh, is also a fan of exotic foods - and we've traveled the world tasting the best and worst of whats on offer.
During the few days we were together - I was there to bring him up to date on Snooth business - we really did a good job trying out the local fare. In Hong Kong that was sharks fin soup and abalone (both very auspicious dishes and served at the wedding) and in the Philippines it was chicken entrails (chewy, like the abalone) and something I'll talk about later.
The Philippine people really go out of their way to eat every creepy crawly they can, from Monitor Lizard (bayawak - which we spent 3 hours looking for), to turtles (we took a taxi to a pretty scary looking downtrodden shanty town looking for this), sharks, live worms, ants eggs, monkey brain, fruit bat, rat and so on, no animal is left uneaten. And, even with animals we know well in the west, they make sure they eat every last piece. A lot of the base parts are barbecued and sold on sticks, so you can get pigs ears (known as "walkmans"), chicken feet (aka "adidas"), the entrails that I tried ("IUD") and many other parts.
Saved for last, however, is the popular after drinking treat called balut (pronounced "balooot"). This is a fertilized duck egg - the closer to hatching the better. A duck usually hatches at 28 days and balut is eaten at either 18 or 21 days. At 18 days its still slightly egg like, with a yoke, but with a soft carcass inside. At 21 days the duck has a beak and feathers and most of the yoke is gone. Its smelly, filled with a strange liquid, and totally gross. I've eaten snake, guinea pig, toad, frog, crow, eel, heart, eyeballs and several family pets, but this really stretched what I was prepared to put in my mouth.
From wikipedia : 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, although the whites may remain uneaten. In the Philippines, balut have recently entered higher cuisine by being served as appetizers in restaurants: cooked adobo style, fried in omelettes or even used as filling in baked pastries.
I was going to attach an image, but its not for the feint hearted, so I'm just dropping in a link of a 21 day old balut egg .
Balut is commonly eaten with beer or gin, but I was only able to get it down with copious tequila and a lot of vinegar to mask the taste.
We did also try some wines while we were out there: a coconut wine as well as a bignay berry wine. Both were pretty terrible. I bought a bottle of the coconut wine back to the office and it hasn't won me any friends...
I'm going back for sure - the island of Palawan has some of the best diving in the world and I didnt manage to make it out there. Maybe next time it'll be chilled monkey brains in pure Indiana Jones style.
Philippine food pairings...
- Reply by oceank8, Sep 8, 2008.
Ah balut; I recall they ate that in the last season of Survivor. Sounds like you should go on that show, although they didn't get anything to wash it down with. I appreciate no picture, I've seen it before and it's pretty gross! Being a vegetarian, I don't think I will travel to the Philippines anytime soon.
- Reply by Philip James, Sep 8, 2008.
yeah, its a real meat eaters place. you could go for the diving / beaches / jungle, but thats about it.
- Reply by veia vei, Mar 29, 2013.
I like balot! :) but only the yellow part is delicious.