Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bird's Nest Soup (燕窝汤) Recipe

Bird's Nest (燕窝) is a Chinese delicacy which is supposedly rich in nutrients for improving the overall health and has anti-ageing properties. It is supposed to be good for the skin too so many Asian women {like me, heehee} eat it for a glowing, flawless complexion :)

Genuine Bird's Nest is expensive. A 37.5g box of dried Bird's Nest from Horse Brand Bird's Nest (馬標燕窝) costs about $155-253. Cheaper alternatives like a ready-prepared box of bottled Bird's Nest with Rock Sugar (6 x 75g) from Eu Yang Sang (余仁生) costs $47.41 but each bottle usually contains only a tiny bit of Bird's Nest. A teaspoon's worth, maybe??

I started taking Bird's Nest more regularly during my pregnancy. Maybe 2 times a week from the 1st trimester. Bird's Nest is believed to help with the mother's nutrition and immune system, as well as promote healthy development of the babies {plus give the baby good complexion too!!}. Sometimes my mum helped me to prepare from dried Bird's Nest but it is a tedious job because you have to soak it overnight, then pluck out the dirt & feathers with a tweezer, then double-boil it. Usually, I would just drink readily-bottled Bird's Nest. I like the ones from Chong Hoe (about $20+/bottle but contains maybe 2 teaspoons of Bird's Nest).

If you do intend to take Bird's Nest, especially during your pregnancy, please stick to the more reputable shops. And if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. There are cases of unscrupulous merchants selling fake Bird's Nest, or producers bleaching and colouring the nests to make it more appealing, or adding ingredients that may be harmful to the mother or baby. Stay away unless you trust the shop! There's a good FAQ page on Bird's Nest here.

My FIL gave me a huge container of cleaned Bird's Nest {as in it was in the dried form, then soaked and dirt was painstakingly plucked away by his maid} when we visited him last week! Yippee!!! It was too much to cook in one serving so I packed them into smaller containers to freeze and cook at a later date.

I wish I had a picture of the original dried Bird's Nest combs. My FIL buys them in bulk straight from a supplier and they are really dirty and not processed?? Not like the ones that you see in the Chinese herbal shops already slightly cleaned and nicely-packed. So many thanks to his maid for cleaning them!

Clean Bird's Nest and rock sugar.

Gelatinous texture. I think there's about 2 combs in here.

Wholesome Chinese goodness :D

This is my mum's recipe.

Time taken:

About 1-1.5hrs

1 comb dried Bird's Nest
80g rock sugar
4-5 pcs premium dried red dates (or dried longans)
2-3 cups hot water

  1. Soak the dried Bird's Nest overnight. Pick and remove impurities from Bird's Nest with a tweezer.
  2. Wash and pit red dates.
  3. Pour the hot water into a double-boil pot. Make sure it covers all Bird's Nest.
  4. Add cleaned, soaked Bird's nest, rock sugar and dried red dates.
  5. Double-boil for 60-90 mins. Bird's Nest should be soft, but be careful not to overcook as it will disintegrate.
  6. Serve chilled (or hot if you prefer)
This is probably enough for 2 servings (depends on the consistency you want). Bird's Nest itself doesn't really have any taste, but the Bird's Nest soup is sweet because of the rock sugar and dates. You can add ginseng for more nutrients... but that would give it a slightly bitter-sweet taste. Some even like to add in abalone, but I like mine plain and simple.

Bird's nest is also nice with scallop congee, especially when you are filling ill with not much appetite. Good for recuperating patients :)


LaVonne said...

I have never heard about this. I think it is fascinating. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

I am visiting from the Relax and Surf blog hop. It is nice to "meet" you. I hope you have a great week.

LaVonne @ Long Wait For Isabella

KnitOne, PearlOnion said...

What a lovely photo...thanks for sharing!

couponmama62 said...

New follower hope you'll return the favor


I have never heard of this either. I found it so interesting and I look forward to more interesting posts from you in the future. Thanks for sharing with Tuesday's Tasty Tidbits at Permanent Posies.

Bunny Jean said...

I didn't know that it was really made from actual birds nests. So you clean out the feathers etc., but I just have to ask about the bird droppings...?

I am intrigued with your blog and am now a follower :)

Thanks for joining the BUNNY HOP PARTY this week. I hope to see you again ;)

xoxo Bunny Jean

Ai Sakura said...

Oh wow so interesting to know that so many of you ladies have not heard of this! Bird's Nest soup has been around for many hundreds of years in Asian society :)

Just shows how nice the blogosphere is for us to share our different cultures :) Come back often to learn more k? heehee...

xoxo Ai Sakura

Ai Sakura said...

@Bunny Jean: Yes, you have to clean EVERYTHING as much as you can. The nest is sold already dried and mostly processed clean so that makes it easier I guess. Usually only the tiny feathers and dirt are left to clean by yourself at home...

Lady J said...

Wow... lucky you to have cleaned bird's nest! I love bird's nest and since it's just a delicacy to have them everyday, I resorted to using bird's nest facial masks to capture the essesnce. Hehe..

Amy said...

This is my kids absolute favorite...maybe because I had some during my pregnancy. Or, they simply have "high-end" taste buds! LOL

My blog turns 1 today and I’m hosting a giveaway on my blog as a way to say thank you for your supports in the past year. Please come over to check it out if you’re interested.

Ai Sakura said...

@Lady J you use bird's nest face masks every day?? wow! dedication to beauty! heehee

@amy the bub takes it sometimes with porridge but I haven't given her by itself yet.. wary of whether it is clean enough haha...

The Charm of Home said...

How interesting. I have heard of this but, I really didn't know anything about it. Thanks for linking it up at Home Sweet Home!

Anonymous said...

I heard that the reason its so expensive because saliva is the main ingrediant to birds nest soup. that doesn't seem like it could be it?

Unknown said...

i usesd two small bottles of birds nest i made a basic chicken stock added a slice of ginger some finely sliced onion. Then added finely sliced snow peas, baby corn, carrot,and brocoli.Salt and pepper for taste and a dash of soy.Then added the birds nest. I managed to get 8 small servings. Its by no way a classic recepie but still tasted delicious and cost wise worked out well.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't refrain from commenting. Perfectly written!