A Swallow’s Bird Nest is considered very precious in Chinese tradition.
For over 400 years, it has been used for various culinary purposes. ‘Yan Wo’ or Birds Nest is used for making soups, jellies, and desserts.
The swallows use their saliva to build their nest. Sometimes they also use twigs.
The white nests are more expensive as they are made purely from the bird’s saliva.
They can cost up to $2000 USD per kilogram.
The black nests might be more affordable due to impurities.
Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia are the major producers of these nests.
A variety of red nests is found exclusively in Thailand and costs a whopping $10,000 USD. Hong Kong and the USA are the major importers of these nests.
What makes these nests special?
Asians, especially women swear by bird’s nest due to its medicinal properties.
The bird’s nest soup works wonders on your skin. It improves the complexion and reduces fine facial lines.
Not just that, it also improves the complexion of the babies if the mother has it during pregnancy.
Research says the nest has a unique Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), which helps to regenerate skin cells and tissues.
The nests are rich in calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Having bird nests regularly in the diet helps to build immunity and boosts metabolism. It also has some benefits, such as curing asthma and chronic cough.
Bird’s nest is also known to have aphrodisiac properties.
Sourcing of the nests for Birds Nest Soup
These nests were initially harvested from the wild. But since the boom in the commercial demand, concrete structures are built to house the swiftlets.
The birds build the nest in 35 days for breeding. After the hatchlings, mature ones abandon the nests.
The workers are trained to protect the birds from pests and predators. They then collect and clean these nests.
However, there is always a fear of over-harvesting.
Hence, the government has proposed laws to maintain the ecological balance. Vietnam allows its people to harvest the nests two times in a year. East Malaysia has given the permission to harvest the nests every 75 days.