Most expensive foods

Swallow nest soup – Edible Chinese bird’s nest

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 Swallow nest soup is a Chinese delicacy made from nest of swiftlet bird. This bird is native to southern asia and south pacific islands. The nest of swiftlets are woven by the male swiftlets during breeding period of 35 days. It is interwoven by the salivary strands of the birds. The nest is woven on the wall of the caves which gives it the shape of swallow cup.

There only three species of bird whose nest is safe for human consumption i.e. edible  nest swiftlet, white nest swiftlet, and black nest swiftlet. Previously in 90s the nest were collected from the caves in Indonesia, but in late 90s harvesting of nest started in the man made concrete structure in the Sumatra and Bornea island in south east asia.

Caviar of the east

Swallow nest is normally referred as caviar of the east because of its cost. The cost of white nest is around $2000 per kg and the more rare red nest which is also referred as blood nest can reach up to $10,000 per kg. Due to the high pricing of red nest some counterfeiter treat white nest with red pigment to make it red and defraud the market.
It is costly because the nest can  only be prepared by the salivary strands of specific species of birds and the harvester cannot pet or own the birds. Birds should be willing to make nest on their own. And for this they have to take lot of care of birds and their eggs too. The nest is also used in ancient Chinese and Vietnamese medicine. And also the demand of this product is very high in the market all these factors contribute the high pricing and cost of the nest.
Red Swallow nest
 Source – iStock

Culinary use of Swallow nest

Mainly bird nest are used in Chinese cuisine for making swallow nest soup. But your can find some of the nest related dishes in many South East Asian countries. But more specifically it is believed as a Chinese ingredients. It is dissolved in the warm to make soup out of this known as yanwo, soup have gelatinous consistency with no dominant flavour at all. Normally the soup is sweeten with rock sugar to make it palatable.
The sweet soup is known as tong sui in mandarin. It is also prepared savoury with very minimal ingredients. It is also used in making congee (rice based soup). Because of its gelatinous texture, nest jelly is also prepared by double steaming method which melts the strands of nest. 
 Source – Gettyimages

Benefits and Medicinal uses 

The nest are rich in nutrients like protein and carbohydrates, also nest have high level of calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Traditionally, nest are believed to have many health benefits. The consumption of nest can beautify skin, retains youthfulness, and clear facial complexion. The nest contains dietary supplement which helps to reduce down the gastrointestinal ailments and ease up the digestion.
Nest is also used in postnatal diet. Its has supplements which strengthen the body after delivery and also proven to recover the health of mother much faster than usual. Nest has a significant place in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It is used in medicine which is believed to treat heart, lungs, stomach and other chronic diseases, mostly organal disease. 

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