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Bird’s Nest Soup

Bird Nest Soup

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A bowl of bird’s nest soup (冰糖燕窝) is a prized (or should I say pricey) Chinese delicacy. Bird’s nests (swallow’s salivia nests) are expensive due to the difficulty in harvesting. Its drink is said to do wonders for skin, throat and lungs, as well as boosting overall health and well-being.

See Also: Snow Fungus Dessert Soup

Lots of Asian celebrities consume this daily to look beautiful! When cooked, the bird’s nest takes on a gelatin texture, making it a lovely tong shui (“sweet soup”; Chinese dessert). Whenever my mum makes bird nest’s soup in the past, she stew it the simplest way possible (as with all my mum’s recipes) – just bird’s nest, water and rock sugar. When I cooked mine, I added a few ginseng slices though it is purely optional. Check out my mum’s tips below for making a homely bowl of double-boiled bird’s nest soup.

Bird Nest Soup

Mum’s Tips for Home-Stewed Bird’s Nest Soup

  1. Rather than weighing the bird’s nest, we go by pieces per person. For two persons, my mum used 2 small pieces or 1 large piece. This equates to about 5-8 grams per person. We use 1 rice bowl of water per person.
  2. Although red dates are a common addition in bird’s nest soup, my family omitted them. According to my mother, the cheap red dates will act like a sponge which absorb the goodness of the bird’s nest soup (though it’s not so bad if you eat the red dates).
  3. My family prefer to enjoy bird’s nest in the purest way – just bird’s nest, water and rock sugar. If I cook it, I sometimes add American ginseng slices. If you find ginseng bitter or intend to consume at night (it improves alertness/提神), omit it.
  4. Don’t fuss over prepping the bird’s nest, because the ones sold nowadays are usually very clean. We simply soak the bird’s nest pieces in cold water for about 1/2 to 1 hr until softened, but not so long that the bird’s nest disintegrates into small bits. If there are any impurities such as debris and feathers, pluck them out using kitchen tweezer, drain and they are ready for cooking.
  5. Just as we do not soak bird’s nest for too long,  we also avoid stewing them for too long. The older folks especially dislike it when the stewed bird’s nest soup do not have solid chunks after cooking. We usually stew them for half to 1 hour in a double-boiler.
  6. For best results, double-boil instead of using direct flame. We use a slow cooker as the double-boiler.
  7. It is said that bird’s nest soup is best consumed at room temperature, or chilled, on an empty stomach (such as just before bed). For maximum absorption, do not eat “heaty” snacks  or medication a few hours before and after drinking bird’s nest soup.

22 comments on “Bird’s Nest Soup”

  1. Pricey!

    Who are the Asian celebrities who consume this daily ??? :P I used to say, they may even bathe in bird’s nestS. :P My family version is also three-ingredient simple but recently, my mom started to add some ginseng slices. Also, sometimes, she gets the bottled version from Hock Hua Tonic.

  2. A deluxe dessert, isn’t it! But compare to ordering it in restaurants, it should be more ‘affordable’ to have it homemade : ).

  3. Hi, may I know where to buy the bird nest and how should we choose?

    • I usually buy bird nest from Eu Yan Sang. Cause i scared to buy fake bird nest. I buy Hua Yan Bird’s Nest Series it’s yellow in colour . I soak it for 2hr and cook it in slow cooker for 3 hr cause it;s big.

    • I agree with Sharon. Can buy from Eu Yan Sang or Hock Hua, i.e. the big reputatable chains. I am not fussy with the breed, as long as it looks clean. The SA will be able to advise you based on your requirement and budget.

    • Just to confirm that i can use slow cooker to cook this instead of double boil method. Thanks

    • hi double boil means having an inner pot inside a larger pot. I use the slow cooker too but fitted a small crock pot. Double boiling is ideal for stewing bird nest. You can see photos of the set up on page 2.

    • If i do not have the inner pot, can i use just the slow cooker? Thanks

  4. Wow, so indulgent! I can only afford the poor man bird nest which is white fungus. :D Heard that the benefit is equilibrium.

  5. A really nutritious tonic. I like it simply double-boiled with rock sugar too.

  6. Do u have recipe for Baked Carrot Cake.

  7. It was the most expensive stuff I consumed during my pregnancy. Haven’t had it for a long time. My mother in law loved to cook it for the family. But, as there are many fake bird nests in the market, she has stopped cooking it. It’s really a pricey Chinese dessert. ;)

  8. I’ve only every had this a few times when I was younger at some relative’s house. I have never tried to make it myself. I would be too nervous that I’d make a mess of it! Lovely job!

  9. actually i wanted to learn the chines food that how to made it thanks for sharing such a nice recipe.

  10. Hi, will you please share with me where to get the smaller inner crock pot?

    • Hi, I got it from Phoon Huat in Chinatown, but you can find it at any neighbourhood shop selling Chinese pots and utensils.

    • Hi Wiffy,

      Is there a Phoon Huat in Chinatown ? Newly open ?
      Btw where you bought that ceramic white bowl with cover from ? I wanna get it too.

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