Bird's nest soup
Bird's nest soup, or nido soup, is a Chinese delicacy that is popular in the Philippines. The bird's nest ingredient comes from select species of cave swiftlets, one of which is found in the Philippines.
Origin and harvesting
The bird's nests that are harvested come from select species of the swiftlet, a tiny bird found throughout Southeast Asia. These birds inhabit dark caves, and the males construct the nests on the cave walls. Instead of using twigs, straw and other plant material, the swiftlets utilize their own saliva to create a small, shallow basin attached to the rocks.
The nests have high levels of calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. They are traditionally believed to provide health benefits, such as improving the voice, easing digestion, alleviating asthma, raising libido, and strengthening the immune system.
The most heavily harvested nests are from the edible-nest swiflet (Aerodramus fuciphagus) and the black-nest swiftlet (Aerodramus maximus). The Aerodramus fuciphagus is found in the Philippines, with the local name of balinsasayaw. The birds are found in El Nido, a region in Palawan whose name literally translates to “the nest.” Even before the Spanish occupation, Chinese travelers and herbalists were documented as having explored the area just to harvest the rare delicacy that the balinsasayaw produces.
For centuries, El Nido residents have looked at the harvesting the nests as their livelihood. The nests are highly prized, such that one kilogram can fetch prices of up to 1,000 USD.
Other Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, are also chief producers of bird's nest. Hong Kong and the United States are the largest importers of the product.
Before cooking, the bird's nest must be soaked overnight in cold water. The softened nest should then be cleaned and devoid of any foreign matter, such as feathers and twigs.
The nest is then combined with chicken stock and cornstarch. Chicken meat, ham and egg whites can also be added. Add salt to taste.
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