My First Fetal Egg - in Saigon
Back in college, I had a Filipino roommate who once reheated some balut in the microwave, creating quite an odor that pervaded the apartment, not to mention shock value when he plucked out the little beak and feathers from this fetal duck egg. I hadn't tried it at the time, but that definitely left a permanent mark in my head. I have yet to visit the Philippines myself, but when I heard that the Vietnamese eat this too, I had to give it a try while here in Saigon.
So we sat down at a stall today and ordered hot vit lon. After asking the lady for a bit of help in shelling it (she basically looked for the open end and smashed it with a spoon in order to open up a hole on top), I started scooping it out, the first body part being what looked like a partially formed head (complete with an eyeball) surrounded by some dark feathers. It wasn't as crunchy as I thought it would be, and actually went down rather smoothly, feathers aside.
The rest of the egg was more like a yellow yolk, albeit pervaded with dark blood vessels or something throughout. It generally had the same consistency as a yolk too, thus ending up tasting not that much different from a normal (unfertilized) hard boiled egg. In fact, the accompanying leaf tasted worse; it didn't look like diep ca, but it was just as disagreeable to my palate. The egg itself actually wasn't that bad, and it didn't quite have any odor either. I didn't even really need any of that salt that was provided.
Then again, there was one white section at the bottom of the fetus that wasn't quite as soft as the yellow yolk-like part, and thus couldn't quite be easily scooped into with my spoon. I gave up at that point, but I wouldn't mind eating this again if I had to. Just don't feed me any of those leaves!