Bird’s Nest Soup
Bird’s Nest Sweet Soup
Traditional Chinese Name:
燕窝 (yàn wō)
This soup is neutral in nature and sweet to taste.
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A traditional sweet soup that is made from dried bird’s nest – mainly those nests collected from the species of swifts. It is a known delicacy in Chinese cuisine and can be used in various sweet desserts, drinks, and health supplements. There are variations of this soup where you can add American ginseng or wolfberries.
So let me explain what exactly “bird’s nest” is. I had to do some research and then ask around the vendors and wet marts and my own herbalist and it’s actually the saliva of the bird when they create their nest. So we aren’t eating the actual nest itself (which would likely be made from twigs and branches and leaves), but when they construct the nest, it’s their saliva that they use to hold the raw materials in place so it forms and hardens into a nest so it doesn’t fall apart when they lay their eggs. There is usually one type of bird, the swiftlet, that the nests are harvested from. And I strongly advise to buy dried bird’s nest from reputable and friendly sources, which usually means after the mating and birthing seasons when the chicklets are grown and the family has vacated the best, or farmed.
The reason why the Chinese love bird’s nest (I call it bird saliva) is because of its delicate, high protein, and collagen properties. Said prized ingredients can help tighten, lift, and brighten your skin and skin tone. These products actually come in a variety of colours from white to yellow and there exists the rarer red version (which is actually bloodied saliva, but highly prized and priced more more significant than their plain counterparts).
I don’t often make this dessert soup, but have tried it a few times just to experience the “making of”. It’s not difficult and falls into a category similar to dried snow fungus or black fungus in that you have to pre-soak to allow it to soften and don’t forget to wash and remove any features and impurities!
Prep time: 3 hours (pre soak bird’s nest)
Cook time: 2 hours
Total time: 5 hours (including soak)
Serves: 2 bowls
- 1 piece of bird’s nest
- 1 piece of medium-sized rock sugar (customized to your taste)
- 1 handful of wolfberries (optional)
- 3 cups of water
- Wash and clean the dried bird’s nest (remove as much feather, debris as you can first)
- Soak in cold water for at least 3 hours (or until relatively soft)
- Once it’s soft, use your hands to run through it, ensuring that it can come apart and clean it again under running water. You’ll sometimes find feathers, rocks, twigs, and bits and bobs of stuff that wasn’t removed during the cleansing process!
- In a double-boiler, put in water and bird’s nest and rock sugar
- Boil water (at simmering) for 2 hours
- Serve & enjoy!