Trứng vịt lộn are duck eggs that have been fertilized and incubated for 16 to 19 days. As a result, when you break one open, you’ll be likely to see an embryo with all the parts of a duckling. Many people are squeamish at eating a fetal duck, and it’s understandable. Trứng vịt lộn is not for everyone.
Because of its popularity in the Philippines, fertilized duck eggs are internationally known by the Tagalog name “balut”. But they’re also a common street food in other Southeast Asian countries, including Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. In Vietnam, vendors that sell balut tend to serve snails and seafood prepared in different ways, together with beer. This makes balut a great drinking food.
According to Vietnamese folk medicine, fertilized duck eggs are said to be an aphrodisiac, giving men virility. For pregnant women, they provide nutrition for a healthy baby (as always, moderation is the key.) Following a widely-held superstition, people eat trứng vịt lộn to reverse bad luck (as “lộn” means “reverse” in Vietnamese).
Tips For Eating Fertilized Duck Eggs
Always eat trứng vịt lộn when it’s hot. To eat a basic boiled trứng vịt lộn, hold the egg from the smaller end and use a spoon to gently crack the shell on the other end to make a small hole. If it’s too hot, place it on an egg cup. Most vendors provide cups even without being asked for one. Start by drinking the soup and make your way to other parts, scooping out the yolk, the white and the embryo. Typically, there is Vietnamese coriander, lime and a mixture of salt and pepper on the side to season the parts as you eat.
Why Are Fertilized Duck Eggs Eaten with Vietnamese Coriander (Laksa Leaves)?
In Vietnam, people always pair trứng vịt lộn with Vietnamese coriander (rau răm), a type of herb with a peppery scent and a bitter taste. In Vietnamese folk medicine practice, Vietnamese coriander is believed to be a “hot” element, which will balance with the “cold” element in duck eggs.
Getting Creative With Fertilized Duck Eggs
The basic way to prepare trứng vịt lộn is to boil them. Once they are cooked, vendors remove the content from the shells and add further seasoning for a variety of flavours. Here are seven more dishes that feature trứng vịt lộn.
Trứng vịt lộn are coated with a thin layer of flour or mashed yam and then deep-fried. This is best eaten hot when the outside of the egg is still crunchy and the inside is soft. Don’t forget the sweet and sour dipping fish sauce.
Stir-fried In Tamarind Sauce (Xào Me)
The cooked eggs are tossed in a tangy sticky tamarind sauce. Some vendors add a few stalks of morning glory for crunch.
Grilled With Chili Sauce (Nướng Ớt)
The cooked eggs are placed in small sauce bowl (or even clamshells!) and then grilled on a charcoal stove, finished with peanut, scallion oil and a spicy chili sauce.
The eggs are simmered until cooked in a creamy congee.
Stewed With Mugwort (Hầm Ngải Cứu)
According to traditional Chinese medicine, mugwort is a bitter herb with healing properties. It is also believed to stimulate the appetite. In this dish, the cooked eggs are simmered in a gingery broth with mugwort leaves. This is usually offered to people who need to gain weight.
Stewed With Bottle Gourd (Um Bầu)
Similar to the dish above, the eggs are cooked in a light broth with bottle gourd.
With Paddy Crab Vermicelli Soup (Bún Riêu/Bún Ốc)
Bún riêu is a type of rice vermicelli in a tomato broth with minced freshwater crab. The addition of fertilized duck eggs brings more richness, sweetness and texture to the soup. This version of bún riêu is popular in Northern Vietnam.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt