Is this your first time considering bird's nest, and you're hoping to know more about it before you splurge? That's totally understandable; bird’s nests are expensive, so you want to make sure it’s worth its top-dollar price tag. Luckily for you, we’re here to deliver the bare basics with this article. Full steam ahead with Bird’s Nest 101!
What is Bird’s Nest?
Let’s start with the most basic question: what is bird’s nest? In this context, “bird’s nest” does not mean your everyday nests that you see in the trees around your neighbourhood. Instead, it refers to nests made by specific species of swiftlets who naturally build their nests in tall, dark crevices in caves. Today, they are also farmed in swiftlet houses around South-East Asian countries, including Malaysia.
What Does It Look Like?
If you’re expecting round nests made of twigs, think again. The bird’s nests we eat are almost entirely a biological product, since the swiftlet makes its nests with its own saliva and down feathers! The male swiftlet takes 35 days to build a nest for its partner and young. Because swiftlets prefer building nests in crevices, their nests are often cup- or spoon-shaped as they cling to corners. Those cute cup or spoon shapes are natural!
Depending on how much you’re willing to pay, most bird’s nests that you can find in stores near you have gone through a round of cleaning beforehand. Cheaper bird’s nests might still contain some impurities, mainly dust particles and dark-coloured down feathers, which you can pick out using a pair of tweezers.
How Many Types are There?
The price of bird’s nests can vary greatly based on several factors, one of which being its type. In general, there are cave nests, which are harvested from the wild in caves, and house nests, which are harvested from man-made swiftlet houses. House nests are becoming more and more common as the demand for bird’s nest rises around the world.
Regardless of their origin, bird’s nests are generally classified into one of three types, based on colour: white, red, or gold. Their names are self-explanatory and easily identified. White is the cheapest option, followed by gold (or yellow), and then red, which is the most expensive. There are also other lesser-known colours like orange.
How is it Eaten?
Dry bird’s nests can’t be eaten right out of the box. It still has to undergo a time-exhaustive process of rehydration, cleaning (if necessary), stewing or steaming, garnishing, and cooling (if desired) before you can take your first nibble at this precious food.
This is because bird’s nests are most commonly consumed in the form of a soup or drink. However, creative chefs have successfully incorporated pieces of bird’s nests as an ingredient in many dishes and desserts, such as tong shui, egg tarts, cakes, jellies, and so on. You can try these options if you’re up for a modern twist on this traditional food.
What Does it Taste Like?
Considering its price, you’re probably wondering what bird’s nest tastes like. Well, bird’s nests by themselves are quite bland. Some people say they taste like egg whites, plain jelly, or even the sea, with salty and sweet hints.
Traditional Chinese chefs believe that bird’s nests should be prepared in such a way that it is not overwhelmed. Therefore, the bird’s nest drinks are accentuated simply with rock sugar, Asian pears, papaya, ginseng, dates, and other Chinese-themed ingredients.
Of course, we’re living in the modern world now, so there are people who prefer stronger flavours and prepare their bird’s nest dishes accordingly. Give both trains of thought a try and tell us which one you prefer!
What’s the Magic Number for Daily Consumption?
Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Sad, but true. On the flip side, you’ll be able to make your precious bird’s nests last much longer because there’s no reason to eat too much of it in one sitting!
Research shows that you only need 3-5 grams of bird’s nest a day in order to reap maximum benefits. It’s very difficult to cook such a small amount of bird’s nest. Most recipes for bird’s nest soups call for 5-30 grams of this luxury ingredient! If you don’t have that many people to share it with, cooking bird’s nest yourself is a potentially wasteful hassle.
That’s why we’re here to help you with instant bottled options!
What are the Benefits of Bird’s Nest?
And here’s the million-dollar question: why should you take bird’s nest at all?
Traditional Chinese medicine has long extolled the ability of bird’s nests to boost immunity, strengthen your body during recuperation, improve eyesight, maintain young complexions, reduce the occurrence of wrinkles, and many more, which is why it was a food fit for emperors.
Come back to our blog from time to time to find out more specific benefits for each phase of your life! The best part about bird’s nest is that it is beneficial for males and females, young and old.
Bird’s nest is no longer the coveted secret of China. Now everyone, not just emperors, can try out this awesome food - and you can even get it ready-to-drink with GeGe’s fresh, made-to-order delivery model, no preparation required!