Photo by stu_spivack is under license CC BY SA 2.0
Selling for as much as $2,500 per kg, edible bird’s nests are among the most expensive foods on the planet. Edible bird’s nest soup is been a prized delicacy in China for 1,200 years. Once reserved for Chinese emperors and empresses the nests are now popular among the nouveau riche. Because are very expensive bird’s nests are usually prepared on special occasions.
The nests are made from the saliva of cave-dwelling birds called swiftlet and, according to traditional Chinese medicine, are considered to have a high nutritional and medicinal value. The most abundant constituent of the nests is protein, which contain all of the essential amino acids. The health benefits attributed to the consumption of the edible bird’s nests (especially when prepared as soup) are many and various: from anti-aging and anti-cancer properties, strengthening the immune system, to raising libido. However, science cannot yet explain the healing powers attributed to the soup.
Swiftlets can be found around the Indian Ocean, in South East Asia, North Australia and the Pacific Islands. Because they live in limestone caves, their nests are very dangerous to harvest. However, for many villages that are close to the birds’ living area, the edible nests are the biggest cash crop. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer, followed by Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Edible bird’s nests preparation requires a very laborious work. In the video below you can see the entire process of preparing an edible bird’s nest soup. Only the cook time is 3 hours.
Soup is the most common way to prepare edible nests, but it can be used as an ingredient in many other dishes. It can be cooked with rice to produce bird’s nest boiled rice or bird’s nest congee. It can be added to various desserts or commercialized as ready to eat jelly.
Would you eat this delicacy knowing that as consequence birds remain without their homes?
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