How to Cook Bird Nest (燕窝)
Edible bird nest also called caviar of the East is the nutritious nests of Swiftlets that are eaten mostly for its
health benefits. There are several methods and recipes for preparing
bird nests. But regardless of the cooking method you opt for, the preparation process and stages are often similar,
though the spices may differ.
Cleaning Bird Nest before Cooking
It is important to clean bird nests before cooking. Every bird nests often contain some amount of rough and fine
feathers. The amount of feathers differs depending on where the nest is harvested and the species of Swiftlet that
built the nest.
The cleaning process must be done carefully. The feathers should be gently removed from the nests without damaging
the inner or out layer of the nest. Some nests may contain small particles of broken eggs because the nests were
used to raise young Swiftlets. Carefully clean the nest and remove any feather, egg particles or droppings in the
Preparing the Nest for Cooking
The first step is to soak the bird nests in a bowl that contains warm water for about one hour. Depending on the
number of nests you intend to prepare at the same time, the bowl should be fairly big enough to contain the nests.
Allow the nest to soak and spend about one hour in the warm water. The nest will expand accordingly to its maximum
After you notice that the nest has expanded to a considerable size, pour the warm water away. Now you can pour new
water into the expanded bird nest. At this point, the amount of water you pour into the nest will determine the
thickness of the soup.
If you intend to double boil the nest, keep the temperature of the fire fairly low, too much heat is not good for
the nutrients in the nest. Bird nest is made of Swiftlets saliva and
most of the nutrients are water soluble. The nest may easily melt if exposed to extreme heat.
Cooking Bird Nests
The actual cooking process starts after the soaked nests has expanded, taken out of the water, placed in new water,
and heating starts with fairly warm fire. It is easy to observe the nest is ready when it breaks apart into strands
and its aroma fills the air.
Now you can spice up the soup with any ingredient you wish. Some of the most common spices people use includes rock
sugar, chicken broth, ginger, American ginseng (for a unique slight bitter taste) and red dates.
Depending on how the nest is spiced, it could be served hot, cold, salty or sweet. However, several nests eaters
prefer to enjoy the soup with rock sugar. Also, it is recommended to consume bird nests
soup on empty stomach.