Edible birds’ nests are among the most expensive foods on the planet at as much as $4,500 per pound. Made from the saliva of cave-dwelling birds called swiftlets, the nests are hazardous to collect, laborious to prepare, and have a long list of health benefits according to traditional Chinese medicine.
Edible birds’ nests, historically eaten in soup, are now made into food and drink additives as well as put into cosmetics, say two Chinese researchers who have evaluated just what is known about the nutritional and medicinal properties of this costly, and strange-sounding health food for Westerners.
In Southern and South East Asia, North Australia and the Pacific Islands, Swiftlets live in limestone caves across the Indian Ocean. Males mainly build the nests, adding them to the caves’ vertical walls. Removing them can be hazardous and painstaking work, and the researchers write that it can take one person eight hours to clean 10 nests, depending on the type of nest.
The Chinese have cooked and eaten the nests as a soup for probably 1,200 years. The nests are known to have a high nutritional and medicinal benefit, believed to have everything from the properties of anti-aging and anti-cancer to the ability to boost concentration and increase libido.
Protein is the nests’ most abundant constituent, containing all the basic amino acids from which proteins are produced, the building blocks. The researchers write that they also produce six hormones, including testosterone and estradiol. Carbohydrates, ash and a small amount of lipids are also found in the nests (naturally occurring molecules that include fats). Previous research has shown that nests contain substances that can promote the division and development of cells, improve the growth and regeneration of tissues, and can inhibit influenza infections.
Because of the high glycoprotein, collagen and amino acids, for many advantages, antioxidants, hormones, and various minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, bird nest are valued. It is also used to preserve youthful skin in skin care ointments. Many mothers and grandmothers would swear that their beloved children and grandchildren would boost their overall health and immunity by enhancing bird nest soups. Since the ancient days of imperial China, this has been a popular cure where only the royal family and well-connected businessmen would consume bird nest soup.
For those recovering from disease or surgical procedures, it is also strongly recommended. In order to get more amino acid for their bodies to create power, new mothers or pregnant ladies eat bird nests.
Scientific research has shown that the bird’s nest has a strong epidermal growth factor (EGF). It is no wonder many women enjoy bird nests to preserve their youthful skin with the richness of collagen and amino acids.
Bird’s nest should be eaten on an empty stomach. They are tonics designed to nourish our bodies, so all the minerals and nutrients are best consumed by an empty stomach. Like hot soup, boiling for hours with rock sugar, or chilled soup, most Chinese eat a bird’s nest. Instead you can use honey. There are many modern restaurants that in Asian cuisines, have to take the bird’s nest as a twist. There are egg tarts that use the nests of birds as fillings or to apply jelly desserts to bird nests. As well as dishes that cook bird nests with scallops and mushrooms, there is congee porridge that uses bird nests.
Depending on the condition and type of bird nest, you can have to soak bird nests for 3 to 8 hours. The softening of wild cave bird nests needs at least 24 hours of soaking. With indirect heat, all forms of bird’s nest should be prepared (i.e., stewing or steaming). One must be careful not to boil the nests. For steaming or stewing, we put the bird nest dish. The Chinese call it double boiling” where the bird’s nest bowl is put in a pot of water on a metal stand. You’re boiling a pot of water, steaming a bird’s nest dish.
The water in the stewing bowl must cover the entire bird nest and other ingredients. The water level should not be more than 70% of the stewing bowl’s full height because the water level will rise during cooking.
Boil the pot of water (that is holding the stewing bowl of bird’s nest) and reduce the heat to a simmer. The active ingredient, “mitogenic stimulation factor”, gets active around 80 degrees Celsius. The effectiveness will be lost if the nest is boiled directly at more than 80 degrees Celsius. Hence, once the pot of water boils, reduce the heat and let it simmer.
Thanks mom for always preparing it for me Try it out!
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