This is a traditional delicacy of the Chinese that goes back to hundreds of years. This bird's nest is actually the nest of swiflets, a type of bird. These swiftlets uses their phlegm-like saliva, that hardens once exposed to air, to build nests. Traditionally found in caves, these nests are expensive due to the difficulty in harvesting. It is considered a luxury to many (me included). The better ones (血燕) can cost more than RM1000 per box. Nowadays bird nests are domesticated for harvesting with some even done in buildings in the outskirts.
Cooking this delicacy is actually very simple. All you have to do is dump everything inside a double boiler. However, our family makes it simpler by just dumping everything into a slow cooker and cook on auto overnight. Frankly saying, I am really more into the taste than nutrition. But I do take a bowl of it early in the morning on an empty stomach. Your stomach is supposed to have the best absorption rate early in the morning and therefore, all the expensive bird's nest would be fully absorbed.
6 small pieces birds nest
10 gm rock sugar
10 pcs red dates
30 gingko nuts (optional)
1500 ml water
1. Soak birds nest in cold water for 1 to 2 hours to soften and remove impurities. I was advised to soak this longer as nowadays the birds nests contain a lot of preservatives.
2. Put everything into the slow cooker. Switch cooker on to "AUTO"
3. Leave to boil for 6 hours.
Most people will cook this without gingko nuts. However, my mom is a fan of gingko nuts. That's why I have included this in the recipe. Some like to add a few slices of ginseng to add additional flavour and nutrition value.
This dish is so easy to cook yet it tastes heavenly. One of my all time favourites. It is also believed to have soothing and beautifying qualities.