Are you willing to pay up to $100 for a bowl of birds nests soup?
In Asia, especially China and Indonesia, birds nests of swiflets have become one of the most expensive edible commodities. People hunt for it to harvest. The best quality of swiftlets birds’ nests can be found in Gomantong and Niah, Borneo. It is a rare and valuable product. Nowadays, one kilogram of swiftlets’ nests averagely retail for about 2,500 US dollar. This is the price of nature produced birds nest. These are the ones formed naturally without any human intervention. You can get cheaper birds nest from the birds nest farmer across South East Asia.
For over 400 years, Chinese people have been consuming birds nests. Especially in soup. Its strong taste needs to be balance with herbs. That is why you will mostly find birds nests soup in ginger broth. In Hong Kong restaurants, you can have a taste of a bowl of birds nests soup for 30 – 100 US dollar. This makes it one of the most expensive soups considering its simplicity.
Want to taste the more modern and different kind of birds nests dish? Try out Gordon Ramsay’s birds nests desert.
The nest itself is made of the bird’s solidified saliva. Yup. Sometimes it comes in white color, sometimes it is brown or dark brown. The darker it is, the more expensive it costs. It all depends on the bird’s diet. It is believed that this bird’s nests is very useful in keeping good health.
Is it true or is it just placebo effect?
Edible bird’s nests contain mainly amino acids, carbohydrates and mineral salts. The major ingredients of edible bird’s nests are glycoproteins. Amongst the carbohydrates in edible bird’s nests, sialic acid (9%) is the major one. It was found that exogenous source of sialic acid may contribute to neurological and intellectual advantages in infants. However, the nutritional and biological mechanisms of sialic acid in human body are still under investigation. The other major carbohydrates include 7.2% galactosamine, 5.3% glucosamine, 16.9% galactose and 0.7% fucose.
Amino acids and mineral salts are also important components in edible birds nests. Three non-essential amino acids (aspartic acid, glutamic acid, praline) and two essential amino acids (threonine and valine) can be found. They could facilitate normal body functions such as cell repair and promote immunity. Edible birds nests is rich in mineral salts. It contains high content of sodium and calcium. It is because the source of edible birds nests is derived from saliva Collocalia inhabiting mainly in limestone caves. In addition, low levels of magnesium, zinc, manganese and iron are also detected in edible birds nests.