Making Balut.

C’est une histoire que j’aime bien, un produit unique, totalement ‘’Pinoy’’, que l’on ne retrouve nulle part ailleurs.

Je dois avouer, bien que connaissant le Balut depuis de nombreuses années, que je ne savais pas que la préparation pouvait en être aussi compliquée.
Qui connait, en dehors des spécialiste, ce qu’est un ‘’Penoy’’, un Magbabalut ?
Saviez-vous qu’il existe trois classes de Balut ?

Les Chinois ont quelque chose de similaire, le maodan, mais ils n’ont pas la technique du Magbabalut !
Ils ont également les œufs centenaires, mais c’est une autre histoire.

A tous, bon appétit !

Pour ceux qui souhaiteraient se lancer dans la production de balut ...

Making Balut For Food and Profit

You have never been to the Philippines unless you have eaten balut!
This is what most Filipinos tell foreigners who come to the Philippines for the first time. So, perhaps this must be the reason why the members of the rock band Switchfoot ate balut on stage at their concert in the country-to the delight of their Filipino fans!

A balut is a fertilized egg with a nearly-developed embryo inside that is boiled and eaten in the shell. It has been the “shocking” topic of some television shows because of its taboo nature in some Western cultures. In two episodes of Survivor: Palau and two episode of Survivor: China, separate challenges featured attempts to eat this fertilized egg. Similarly, Fear Factor frequently uses balut as a means of disgusting contestants. The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir featured balut eaten by several contestants after its introduction by a Filipino-American fighter Phillipe Nover.

 It might be unacceptable to most foreigners but for Filipinos, it is one of the country’s most treasured delicacies. Indeed, they enjoy this delicacy popularized by a small town in Pateros, Rizal. Named after the Filipino term which means “wrapped,” it has been touted as aphrodisiac as it boosts libido. It is common on street drinking sessions and just chatting with friends late nights. Generally, balut is being sold mostly when the street lights are on by vendors in basket covered with thick foams and cloths to keep them warm.

Duck eggs are used for balut. Although it ranks second only to chicken for egg and meat production, duck is also an important sub-sector of the Philippine poultry industry. It provides employment and income-generating opportunities for Filipinos, particularly those in the rural and marginal areas.

Among the avian species, ducks are considered the most adaptable because they thrive well on almost all kinds of environmental conditions. They need simple, less expensive, and non-elaborate housing and rearing facilities.

Ducks can be fed a variety of foods such as rice, cassava, copra, corn, and fruits. They also forage on green legumes, algae, aquatic weeds, fungi, snails, earthworms, maggots and insects, and this reduces feed cost. They can also be used to control golden apple snails, which are pest to rice plants in some parts of the country.

Since ducks live longer than chickens, farmers can already make a profit from the ducks in the second year of laying. Another advantage is the longer interval required for the replacement of stock.
The recommended breed of duck for balut production is the Mallard. Studies on the laying performance of Mallard duck from several locations in the country revealed wide variability in egg production. A study done by Dr. Angel L. Lambio of the Institute of Animal Science at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos showed that on the average egg production of Mallard ducks varied from 48 percent to 67.5 percent of the laying ducks.

Making balut is native to the Philippines. A similar preparation is known in China as maodan (literally “feathered egg”), and Chinese traders and migrants are said to have brought the idea of eating fertilized duck eggs back from the Philippines. However, the knowledge and craft of balut making has been localized by the balut-makers (magbabalut). Today, balut production has not been mechanized in favor of the traditional production by hand.

Each balut produced has a 40 percent to 45, percent return on investment. An additional 15 percent would come from the lower quality balut known as penoy. For a duck egg to become a balut, some 16 to 18 days must elapse while it is being incubated in the balutan.

The balutan is a makeshift shed, usually 50 to 60 square meters, made of hollow blocks with GI roofing. Its interior should be dark and humid. It could also be made from bamboo and nipa as long as its walls are all closed to avoid air draft. The floor should be of hard earth.

Inside the balutan, rectangular and hollowed-out ,wooden incubators (the size of a billiard table but narrower in width) is placed. Bamboo baskets (about 25 inches wide and 48 inches deep) are laid in it. Each bamboo baskets are cushioned and separated from each other with rice husks to keep the eggs constantly warm.

Duck eggs to be made into balut should first be air-dried outdoors for 30 minutes. Then, about 115 eggs are placed in abaca cloth bags (tikbo) or wraps in sinamay fabric (panyo). These are placed in bamboo baskets, about 10 tikbo or a total of 1,150 eggs per bamboo basket. About 5,750 eggs are processed in one wooden incubator per incubation period.

To give the eggs constant warmth, heated bags of palay are placed between the bamboo baskets. The bags of palay are heated first by placing them in a hot iron vat (kawa) for one whole day at a temperature of about 43 degrees Centigrade.

The right amount of heat is critical at this stage. Too much heat will cause the eggs to spoil. For the eggs to receive the same amount of warmth, the eggs per tikbo are rotated in each bamboo baskets. If possible, the eggs are arranged in the incubators according to their age. At the bottom, the 6-day old eggs are placed; in the middle portion, the 15-day old eggs, and at the top portion, the 18-day or genuine balut sa puti (wrapped in white).

The process of rotating and heating is best learned by experience, although a seasoned magbabalut knows the right temperature and the proper placing of the eggs by instinct. Normally, the magbabalut tests the temperature by holding the eggs against his bare cheeks or half-closed eyes.

Care must be taken for the thin-skinned eggs not to crack. After 16 to 18 days, the eggs are removed from the tikbo and these are air-dried outside the balutan.

To test which eggs are fit to be made into balut, a bulb tester (silawan) is used. This is a wooden frame which encloses a small light bulb or a candle. One side of it has a very small hole that lets the light out. An egg is placed into the small hole and then examined.

Detecting a penoy can be done as early as the 7th day of incubation. The penoy has dead yolk and embryo but is not in an advanced state of decomposition. It is edible when hard-boiled, but is not as delicious as the balut. In some instances, these-are beaten and fried, similar to scrambled eggs, and served with a vinegar dip.

The so-called primera (first class balut) consists of a hard white portion known as the bato, the sisiw (embryo) and the pula (yolk). The higher-quality balut has a relatively small bato. Those with larger ones are called the segunda (secondary). It is considered a third-class balut when the sisiw closely touches the shell.
Balut is sold at P10 to P12 per piece, while penoy can be bought at P8 to P10 per piece. Generally, btrlut is eaten with a pinch of salt, though some balut-eaters prefer chili and vinegar to complement their egg. The egg is savored for its baEance of texture and flavor; 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.

“This food is the defining factor of all exotic foods in the country,” one foreigner commented. “It has made the Philippines unique from all of the countries in the world. Hopefully, in the future, the world will be ready for it and that the Philippines would make it as an international phenomenon.”

Recently, balut has entered higher cuisine in the Philippines by being served as appetizers in restaurants: cooked adobo style, fried in omelettes or even used as filling in baked pastries.

Studies shows that balut indeed boosts one’s energy since it contains 12.6 grams of protein,181 calories and good sources of vitamin B1 and B2, minerals, niacin, Beta carotene, and other supplements.

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