Balut in Cambodia

How balut is served in Phnom Penh

balut in Cambodia

Pong tia koon or balut served on a plastic container and garnished

balut in Cambodia

Take your pick of pong tia koon

Only in the Philippines!

I squirm uneasy everytime I read or hear Filipinos say this when talking about balut. Balut is the infamous boiled duck embryo and is a popular street food. But this veritable taboo food, in some countries for that matter, is usually common here in the country at night being sold by ambulant vendors.

But then, yes, there’s also balut in Cambodia and around Southeast Asia and is prevalent in the northern countries including Vietnam, Laos and up to China.

While going around Kandal Market in Phnom Penh, where I also found a siopao version, but much tastier, I was jsut amazed at the many kind of streetfood being served there. Those found in the Philippines pales in comparison. If we have a limited fare like fishballs, squid and chickenballs, <em<kwek-kwek, and a few more, they have tens more!

But what I did find interesting was when I came closer to a particular stall. There was a pot of boiled eggs but seeing some locals eating it, I was suprised to find that it was actually balut in Cambodia! And the Cambodians serve it better than us!

Pong tia koon

The balut is called pong tia koon in Phnom Penh and is plated. It’s shelled embryonic glory is ensconced in colorful plastic containers. A sauce of lime juice, salt and freshly crushed black pepper is then poured over. A garnish of fresh Cambodian mint is included. It’s a better way of serving this delicacy thus lessening the fear factor. Here, you just consume it beside the stall but be prepared to pay in US dollars, around US$1.

Voila! And you have a good pong tia koon to enjoy!

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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