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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs)

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs) 1

I had intended to post about how to eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs), or balut to Filipinos, a while back but the photos were pretty bad. I usually only eat hot vit lon when my parents are in town because my youngest aunt buys it for them. The lighting at her house isn't the best. After visiting Hot Vit Lon Long An - Westminster (Little Saigon) last fall, even though I only bought sugarcane juice, obviously it would've been a good chance to do a how-to post, but again, bad photos.

My parents were back in town again recently to visit their first grandbaby. One night, because I hadn't come over for dinner, youngest aunt knocked on my door with a bag of Vietnamese dumplings and hot vit lon. Aha! Slightly better lighting at my house. Plus, I can set them up oh so prettily with my egg cups. Yes, I bought egg cups specifically for hot vit lon. Because I'm just that weird. Well, I guess you could use them for soft-boiled eggs, but these egg cups are reserved for hot vit lon in my house. :P

I've kinda circled around to the idea of Vietnamese fertilized duck eggs. I've always eaten them growing up. I used to enjoy eating the individual body parts of the duck. Gross! I know! Eating the little webbed feet and body and then head. Then I avoided it for a while because seeing the little fetal duck made me squeamish. And then, there was the time in college when my friend hadn't boiled them long enough so they were still raw and when he reheated it in the microwave they all exploded. Except for mine. Which unfortunately decided to explode IN MY FACE when I tapped the shell. Not that that scarred me or anything. Now, while I don't buy them myself, I will eat them if they happen to be available.

And so when youngest aunt gave me five hot vit lon, I ate one myself, shared one with Tony of SinoSoul, and gave the others to my brother. Afterward, he mistakenly texted me when he intended to send it to his wife. I think his exact word was, "Gross!" Haha. I know, it's not for everyone, but I think hot vit lon taste like dumplings. Very sweet liquid. Squishy insides.

It's OK. Afterward, I gave him some Ga Kho Gung (Vietnamese Braised Caramelized Chicken with Ginger) to remove the taste and imagery of the duck egg. Tony set up the photo on top. All nice and neatly in a row.

Who eats like that?

Not that I'm a food stylist or anything, but I prefer my food to be presented as how I would eat it.

Just imagine yourself sitting down to one egg, with a spoon to eat it with.

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs) 2

Or if you're setting up a shot to be shared, you'd show other people's place settings as well. A much better photo for my sensibilities. :P

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs) 3

And don't tell me those egg cups weren't worth buying?

OK, last chance folks. If you're squeamish, don't continue.


I mean it.

Last chance.

Vietnamese like our hot vit lon matured three weeks, about 19 to 21 days or so. Yes, you can see the little duckling's feathers and head and eyes and feet.

To cook hot vit lon, place the eggs in a pan and fill the pan with water until the eggs are covered. When the water boils, turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for about half an hour. The eggs should be eaten hot.

Have a saucer of salt and ground black pepper ready. And a plate of rau ram (Vietnamese coriander).

If you don't have egg cups, you can use small tea cups, or makeshift the egg carton to hold each egg.

Gently tap around the shell so you can peel off just the top. My egg, unfortunately, didn't have much liquid. Otherwise, sip the sweet broth until it's gone.

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs) 4

Then sprinkle salt and ground black pepper on top.

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs) 5

Bite. Shove some Vietnamese coriander into your mouth.

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs) 6

Add some more salt and pepper. Spoon another chunk. Shove in some more rau ram.


Yes, the poor duckie is looking at you.

How to Eat Hot Vit Lon (Vietnamese Fetal Duck Eggs) 7

Some people eat the thick white albumen, but it's too rubbery for my taste.

I don't like calling hot vit lon balut for several reasons. They're not interchangeable to me. Sort of like keeping Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls) separate from Lumpiang Prito (Filipino Fried Egg Rolls). Similar yes, but different fillings and different words. Vietnamese eat the fertilized duck eggs slightly different than Filipinos do. We also prefer them more mature so that one week difference is a difference in taste and texture. But mostly, to me, these aren't balut. They're hot vit lon.

You can find hot vit lon at most Asian grocery stores or at specialty stores such as Hot Vit Lon Long An - Westminster (Little Saigon). Or buy one already prepared at C & C Express - Westminster (Little Saigon).

Enjoy! Really! I mean it! :)

1 year ago today, panchi (Thai taro, coconut, and corn fritters) at Bhan Kanom Thai - Los Angeles (Thai Town).
2 years ago today, Dith Pran and the Killing Fields memorial in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
3 years ago today, popcorn chicken, butter toast, tea-flavored egg rolls, and freshly brewed tea at Tea Station - Alhambra.


  1. sweeeet.

    My very white roommate had the misfortune of trying to break a hot vit long into his egg scramble. After beating the blue egg over the head with a fork, he gave up on it, as it did not open. He looked at me and said, "i just think that these Olivera eggs are not the best. thats the last time i buy eggs at the liquor store." I didn't have the heart to tell him what was actually going on.

  2. ok. thank you posting this.
    1. i love the egg cups, they're adorable and kinda funny cus they're so cute and you're eating basically duck fetus.

    2. i haven't had this since... 6th grade, when i lived in the philippines. i used to LOVE the liquid and eating the yolk... and then letting either of my parents have the rest.

    3. i have tasted the actual meat. i used to close my eyes and shove it all in my mouth. until i made the mistake once of looking at it and then of course someone, just to F with me, started talking about babies and blah blah blah.. and that was it for me. i stopped.

    4. growing up did any of the grown ups tell you that this was only for adults and if kids ate it, it made them stupid?

  3. Before I knew any better, I used eat these when I was in second grade. I'd pour a criminal amount of salt on top before digging in. We moved overseas and I forgot all about them. I could not revisit them now, even with my love for rau ram.

  4. Wow...this brings back memories! I haven't had these in a loooong time as they only come in a package of a dozen eggs at my Asian store. I can only eat about 3 eggs before I'm either full or had my fill. There's no way that my very white husband or stepson will help me eat these!

  5. yay! it actually doesn't really make sense to me why people dont like to eat hot vit lon. I've had them all my life and they taste so good!! the meat is so tender and the "soup" is great! in any case, I don't really see how this is any worse than eating a mature duck or really any other kind of meat.

    I actually prefer them a little less mature because I don't really like the feathers, but I've never had one I didn't like. in a pinch, you can also use those little plastic cups that come with liquid medicine to hold the egg while you eat.

    I've been having a craving for these, but I have never bought them on my own. Hm... I think there's a place that has them on Valley near the Valley Burger...

  6. Thanks for this! I will be pointing people to this entry if it comes up in conversation (which it does pretty often surprisingly). When I was younger, I would eat these quite often but gave the actual chick to my parents or dog. I just didn't like the texture. However, unlike you, I love the thick white albumen. It reminds me of cartilage! I also find the broth and thicken yellow part (don't know what it is?) very tasty. In my Cambodian household, it was eaten with a mixture of salt, ground black pepper and vinegar.

  7. Also, forgot to add that ours were usually chicken eggs, not duck. I know this because one hatched (talk about mature!) and my family had a pet chicken for a while. :-D

  8. hi wc - thanks for explaining the process and the difference between hot vin lon and balut. man, my dad would love this.

  9. I just love eating balut here in the Philippines :D I didn't know Vietnam also have these. Very informative.

  10. I haven't eaten fertilized duck eggs in quite some time. I love the "soup" and I love the yolk sprinkled with coarse salt. As for the fetus, I just shut my eyes and gulp it down. I prefer the younger ones, without the feathers. I don't know if I can eat these anymore, not having them for such a long time. . .but maybe it's like riding a bicycle. ;)

  11. I've actually never tried hot vit lon; I had the hot ga lon instead. I always thought I would make the transition one day, but I am too afraid to do it. In my eyes, hot vit lon is way too huge for me to not notice the baby duck when I break the egg open. xP

  12. This post and all the comments actually makes me want to go out and try it. Now if I could only find some place where I can buy one or two of them to try :)

  13. Fascinating post! You're one of my favorite & most informative foodmakers :)

  14. My Filipino Boyfriend has described eating balut to me before. Makes me squeamish every time. (I had to quickly scroll through the bottom half of your photos) It's an informative post though for those who are curious!

  15. I ate this several times in Saigon, I was not aware they were even available in the states. I have certainly never seen them in Asian markets around me. An acquired taste to be sure

  16. Katie,
    Haha. What did you end up doing with the egg? Did you show him?

    My friend got squicked out with the tiny bones and asked what to do with them. I told him to eat it all. :P

    Since my parents fed me hot vit lon as a kid, then they can't have told me not to eat it or it'd make me stupid. :P

    I used to feel that way, then I've come back around again and quite enjoy them the few times a year I eat them.

    If you make it down to Little Saigon, you can eat one or two as a snack at C&C.

    Eats Durian,
    It's seeing the little formed duckie that grosses people out. I think eating a whole baby instead of just parts is what weirds people. But yeah, if you're eating meat, it's meat.

    You can also buy them individually for $1 at Asia Supermarket on Valley/Atlantic.

    Haha. Why do people talk about fetal duck eggs? Just talking about food that grosses them out? I like the duck and don't really like the yolk or albumen parts.

    How do Filipinos eat balut?

    Several other countries eat this too. We're not alone. :P

    Yup. I fell off but once I started eating them again, it was easy.

    Ha. And I've never had hot ga lon. Wouldn't it be the same? Embryo chick and all?

    :) :) :) :)

    That's more like it! Why be intimidated?


    Kirbie Cravings,
    I'm surprised you continued reading!

    World of Eats,
    Yup! You can get almost everything from Vietnam in the States these days.

  17. hi wc - i've never actually eaten it, but the way my dad eats it, he cracks it open, sucks the juice, then opens more of the shell and eats the duck bit by bit. feathers, beak and all. no cilantro or herbs involved.

  18. Hi WC,
    Holy crap, you don't mess around! Seriously, I do have a open mind--really--but as I've been mother henning it for 21 days, i.e. hovering over eggs that have just been hatched, I can't fathom eating one. Makes little to NO sense, but there you go. You get attached when you care for something...

    We 21st century people get squeamish, when we can recognize the creature we're consuming, when it hasn't been sliced and diced, blood and organ-free, vacuum-packed and sealed in foam packaging.

  19. Thanks for this tutorial. We had a hot vit lon-eating day recently among quite a few Melbourne (Australia) food bloggers. Most were surprised it was actually good! The broth is the best part IMHO.

  20. I love balut! Too bad I didn't try one when I was in Vietnam last year. I saw street vendors in Hoi An but skipped trying it. The Vietnamese way, I have observed, eat the hot vit lon with salt, coriander and mint. Filipinos, eat it more simple. Just salt and vinegar mixed with chili. I prefer mine with a mixture of fish sauce and vinegar =)Great blog WC! Keep it up! =)

  21. Wow, great pictures! I used to eat these as a child. In fact, I used to be a little greedy about it and pop at least 2 or 3, in amazement of my parents and relatives. I've recently thought I would like to try them again as an adult, but I have to be honest, that seeing them here may have changed my mind. I'm about 50/50 right now, so we'll see what happens when I finally have one in front of me!

  22. CC,
    Pretty similar to the way Vietnamese eat it then!

    I imagine it would be much harder to eat this if I raised little ducklings! But maybe not? I'm not terribly squeamish about my food.

    Ms Baklover,
    When I tell people the broth is sweet so it's like eating a juicy dumpling, they get weirded out!

    I'll have to try the Filipino way with vinegar. Although, I imagine it'd be like how I like to eat food with salt, black pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice.

    Haha. I used to too. But now, one is enough for me. I've come back around to eating them again, so maybe you will too?

  23. Wow! That's a crazy story...exploded in your face. Yikes! I haven't had the mojo to try this yet, but at least you give a basis to consider it. Cam on.

  24. Russell,
    Haha. Yeah, luckily I didn't get any burns, just traumatized. It's yummy! Sweet like dumplings. :)

  25. interesting personal hot vit lon history. :)

  26. Van,
    You liked the part where it blew up in my face, huh?

  27. How do you pick the best ones when buying chung it lon to eat?

  28. dh417,
    I really don't know. They all look the same to me. My family sometimes gets ours directly from a poultry farm, so we're assured of freshness. Otherwise, sometimes the eggs are stamped with expiration dates, so pay attention to that?


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