English name: Bird's Nest (literal translation: “swallow’s nest")
Chinese name: 燕窩 (yànwō/jin1wo1)
What is bird's nest?
Bird’s nest has been a Chinese delicacy for centuries. The nest consists of interwoven strands of saliva built on the side of a cave during mating season. The world's bird's nest originates from South East Asia, mainly Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. The edible bird’s nests are among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans.
How do I eat bird's nest?
- The most traditional way to enjoy bird's nest is preparing sweet (tong sui) or savory soups.
- The modern approach is eating bottled bird's nest that has already been cleaned and prepared. This way saves time while receiving the same health benefits.
What are the health benefits to eating bird's nest?
- Coveted for its rich proteins and minerals, taking bird's nest regularly helps stimulate the appetite, speed recovery from illness, invigorate the lungs, boost immunity, and improve the body’s overall metabolic functions. As an added bonus, it helps your keep skin looking youthful and glowing!
- Bird's nest is particularly suitable for pregnant women. It is extremely rich in proteins and other nutritional elements like amino acids, mucin and lipids. These elements play a vital role in the absorption of nutrients within the body and improving metabolic functions. This can significantly contribute to the healthy development of the fetus and the post-natal vigor of the mother.
How do I select bird's nest?
- Cave nest (洞燕) is more expensive than house nest because the nest is harvested from caves instead of man-made facilities.
- With high quality bird's nest, you can boil for hours at a time and the pieces won't melt; the cooked texture should be firm and have a little "bite" when you chew it.
- Do not be fooled by fake bird's nest, which is basically just gelatin.
- Premium bird's nest is red nest cup, commonly known as "blood yan" (血燕). The red color comes from the presence of minerals such as iron from the cave walls. These minerals are absorbed from the cave wall by the nest in combination with the humid environment causes iron oxidation which turns the nest red.
- Whiter does not always mean cleaner. Oftentimes, producers slightly bleach the nests and claim that they have picked all the feathers out of the nest.