The Worst Dish Maneet Chauhan Ever Ate On Chopped

Arguably the best perk of being a cooking show judge is that you get to taste all the stunning dishes that contestants make, dishes that viewers can only dream of replicating at home. However, with the perks come the downsides; for instance, judges have to put their personal preferences aside and taste everything, the good and the bad. One such judge who was responsible for tasting food in the audition phase of a cooking contest show wrote for Vice that he was nicknamed "Iron Stomach" by his fellow judges. For one, he says you can be allergic to certain foods, which is definitely a downside to having a job that involves tasting just about everything that's put on the plate. He also admits that the possibility of food poisoning and other food-related illnesses is very real.

It's no surprise then that the judges of Food Network's "Chopped" have also had to taste dishes that they didn't quite like. For Maneet Chauhan (via Insider), the worst dish she's ever had to taste when filming the show is the Filipino delicacy balut. Maneet isn't alone in her dislike of balut. In 2018, "Survivor" host Jeff Probst admitted to Entertainment Weekly that balut was hands down the worst dish he's ever had to eat on "Survivor."

When a renowned chef and longtime judge on "Chopped" announces that balut is the worst dish she's ever had to taste on the show, you might be inclined to believe that balut might indeed be quite awful. In reality, balut is considered a delicacy in Southeast Asia (via Insider).

What is balut?

Balut is a hard-boiled duck egg, but it's nothing like your regular hard-boiled egg. The duck egg used to make balut is fertilized and incubated, usually for about 16 to 20 days. Depending on how long the duck egg has been incubated, the embryo of the duck can be developed enough to have feathers and a beak (via The Culture Trip). While this might be enough to make Chauhan and Probst queasy, balut is a popular street food in Southeast Asia and is quite easy to find in markets.

In fact, balut is so integral to Filipino food that there are several balut eating companions around the world, even in the United States. Nicole Ponseca, the owner of two Filipino restaurants in New York, hosted a balut eating competition in 2014 for the third year in a row (via NBC News). The winner, Wayne Algenio, ate 40 baluts in five minutes to win the contest. The runner-up ate a whopping 35.

To eat balut, you have to cut out a small opening at the top of the egg, just enough for you to sprinkle some salt on it, and slurp the soupy liquid that the yolk and the duck are sitting in. You should then peel away the entire shell and eat the creamy yolk and the duck in a bite or two.

The duck can have a different texture and taste, depending on how long it has been incubated. Some will have a bit more crunch as a result of the development of the beak and the bones.

What does balut taste like?

The bones aren't as crunchy as you might think though. The Takeout notes the bones are quite tender with a mousse-like feel and will melt in your mouth. While the yolk has a soft texture similar to that of cream cheese, which makes it fairly pleasant to eat, the site recommends skipping the egg white as "it has the flavor and texture of a pencil eraser." The Culture Trip adds that the egg white, which is also called bato, or stone, can be quite tough to chew. This is especially the case for more developed eggs.

In a Reddit thread, one user described the taste of the yolk to be similar to that of scrambled eggs, adding that parts of balut are slimy, whereas others are meaty and crunchy. Another Reddit user described the taste of balut to be similar to that of plain chicken, and compared the soupy liquid to the taste of chicken broth. Balut eating champion Wayne Algenio too thinks that balut tastes similar to chicken, but goes a step further to add that balut tastes like "chicken egg on steroids" (via NBC News). Redditor chocolatetit had a particularly vivid description for the taste of balut: "the eyes are like tapioca balls but a little bit tougher, the beak is kinda like accidentally eating a watermelon seed ... [and] The white part feels like i am chewing a rubber."

While balut may be a popular snack of choice for many, this peculiar delicacy is certainly not for the faint-hearted.