Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bird's nest soup

“Eating Bird's nest? How can you eat twigs and straw and call it a gourmet food?” This is a question most of my non-Asian friends ask me whenever I talk about eating bird’s nest.

Description: cool

The nests are exclusively those of swiftlet, a tiny bird found throughout Southeast Asia. Instead of twigs and straw, the swiftlet makes its nest from seaweed and strands of gummy saliva, which harden when exposed to air. These highly prized nests are built on the ceiling of the caves as high as 70m making the process of harvesting an ordeal and expensive. The best bird’s nest is reputably from Sarawak.

Rich in protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients, bird's nest is good for everyone, young and old, men and women, the sick and mother-to-be. The Chinese have been eating bird's nest as medicinal gourmet food for centuries and believe it replenishes and nourishes the internal organs, speed up recovery from illness, and boosts overall well being. However, the most widely known benefit of consuming bird's nest is its ability to rejuvenate, restore youthfulness and ensure glowing and wrinkle-free complexion, which explains why it is such a hot commodity and luxury to the Chinese women. Last but not least, it tastes good too!

Bird’s nests are available in as a complete piece (cup shaped) which is better in quality or broken pieces and clean (often pale yellowish unless it is another variety called “bloody bird’s nest” which is reddish in color). For clean nests, soak in cold water for about 3 hours or until soft, then clean them under running water and they are ready to use.

Unclean nests are blackish, contaminated with feathers and twigs. The best kind is devoid of pinfeathers and foreign particles and in good shape. The preparation of unclean bird’s nests can be a very tedious task. First, you need to soak them for at least a day. It will expand, loosening most impurities to float to the top. Wash the nests under running water and repeat the process if necessary until nothing comes loose by itself anymore. The remaining stubborn impurities stuck in the nests will have to be patiently hand picked using a pair of tweezers aided by a pair of sharp eyes, which explains why, despite the price difference, very few people would go for the unclean nests.

Although it is a gourmet food, cooking bird's nest is very easy. Bird's nests can be served in soup with chicken, ham or quail eggs and seasoned with salt; or more popularly as a dessert where they are double-boiled with water and rock sugar. When used during confinement it is best to add some red dates and pau sam to make it more nutritious. The texture of cooked bird's nests is like that of strings of agar-agar or jelly. According to my mother, it is best to consume the bird’s nest immediately when woken up from sleep. Apparently, this will ensure better digestion and absorption of the nutrients in the nest.

According to that specializes in the sale of bird’s nest:
“Cooking time should be adjusted accordingly to the different types of birds' nests used and time taken to soak the nests. If over soaked, simmering time must be reduced”.

Alternatively, you can buy ready-made "Bird's Nest with Rock sugar" in bottles but the quality may not be the same.

1 comment:

Chaeles Bagli said...

mann i love bird's nest soup too even IF its made from spit!!! <333

i eat it like once every monthish and used to bought from website sometimes, my mom went back to hong kong and bought a full suitcase of it cause its cheaper there XD