Edible Bird Nest Has Health Benefits

The Bird Nest of a variety of swiftlets is harvested, prepared, and eaten for health benefits. Nests are high in iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. They are believed to relieve respiratory ailments, boost the immune system, and increase blood circulation. They are also believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Nests are built by the white, black, and red-nest swiftlet males during breeding season. They are made from strands of salivary cement that are interwoven and stuck to cave walls. Due to the high demand, nests are commercially harvested in reinforced concrete nesting houses near the sea. Swiftlets are attracted to the coasts of Thailand, China, and Indonesia, so nesting houses in those countries are quite successful.

As an animal product, bird’s nests are subject to import restrictions in several countries. This makes them very expensive, and it is not uncommon for one nest to be sold for several hundred U.S. dollars. Nest pieces are sold by weight, and are available in four grades. Grade D has a harder bite and a chewy texture, while Grade C, which comes in stripes, has a less chewy texture. Grade B is a rectangular shape, and is less dense. Grade A is a half cup shape, and can be prepared to a silky texture. This premium Grade is often given as gifts during special occasions to bring blessings to the recipient(s).

The ingredient is used most commonly in Chinese Bird’s Nest Soup, but can also be used in rice dishes, egg tarts, desserts, and bird’s nest jelly. A bowl of the soup in a fine restaurant can cost as much as one hundred dollars, but it can also be made at home. The recipe is a simple one, with only a few added ingredients. First, the bird nest pieces are soaked in water for one and a half to two hours. Then it is boiled, in a boiling pot, for two hours. Boil it for two and a half hours to get a silky texture, if that is preferred. Just before the soup is ready, add in ginseng, red dates, rock sugar, and wolf berries. The end result is a thick, almost gelatinous, clear soup.