You may not imagine a nest made of hardened bird saliva would be a delicacy, a skincare product, and a popular gift across Asia. Edible bird's nests are bird nests that are created from edible-nest swiftlets, Indian swiftlets, and other swiftlets using solidified saliva, which is harvested for human consumption. Edible-nest swiftlets, which are found in Southeast Asia and East Asia, do not use twigs for their nest. Instead, they produce nests entirely from their own saliva. The bird builds its nest – strand by strand – over a period of a month or so using the viscous liquid that is usually secreted from a gland under its tongue during the breeding period. This is the nest harvested for human consumption. Here is everything you need to know about the blood bird's nest and edible bird's nest, and why it's a rare Asian delicacy.
What is Edible Bird's Nest?
Edible bird's nests are known as "Yan Wo" and "caviar of the East" in the Chinese community. For hundreds of years, Chinese culture has hailed the health benefits of a bird's nest in high regard, especially when prepared in its most popular form; bird's nest soup. The nests are made by the edible-nest swiftlet, a small bird native to Southeast Asia. The world's largest flock of swiftlets lives in Indonesia, the largest producer of edible bird's nests. Malaysia is also another prominent producer of edible bird's nests. The architecture of the edible bird's nests is fascinating and looks like a hammock consisting of tightly woven threads. They can be white, yellow, or red.
Bird's nest is very nutritious when prepared in its most popular form, bird's nest soup. Its benefits include virility, better skin, stronger pregnancies, and healthier babies. After research by nutrition specialists, it was found that bird's nest has more benefits, such as boosting the human body's immune system. Research shows that the Edible bird's nest contains a protein that accelerates the formation of B cells, which in return boosts your immune system.
What is Bird's Nest Soup?
Bird's Nest Soup is made out of the nest of a swiftlet bird, which is formed with the bird's saliva. The ingredients of the soup are bird's nest, water, and rock sugar. The nest is steamed with water and rock sugar for a couple of hours.
What is a Blood Bird's Nest?
The blood bird's nest is also known by many as the red bird's nest. These red edible bird's nests are called Xueyan or Xueyanwo (blood swiftlet or blood swiftlet nest) in Chinese. Mostly, edible bird's nests range from being dull white or dirty white to somewhat dull yellowish. Sometimes, in caves and swiftlet houses, there are some samples that are partially or completely dull orange-red to brownish red.
Why is Blood Bird's Nest Red?
Likely Explanation: Blood Bird's Nest is red due to chemical reactions in the bird's habitat
The blood bird's nest entails chemical reactions. The most recent studies have indicated that the nest’s blood red color is not from actual blood but rather studies show that nests get their color from common chemical reactions that take place in the bird's habitat. The edible nests of swallows who live in caves usually absorb minerals from the limestone walls in their surroundings. Since their caves tend to be saturated with humidity, the water and oxygen in the air mixes with minerals from the rocks and forms a sort of "rust" that gives the nests their dazzling red color.
Legend 1: It is actual blood from the bird
A century-old legend alleges that the red color usually originates from the blood in the saliva of exhausted swiftlets as they hurry to finish their nests before laying eggs. The blood mixes with saliva and the result is a crimson-colored liquid.
Legend 2: It is because of the bird's diet
There are other explanations that claim the redness of the nest is a result of the bird's diet. One of the bird's favorite foods is the lotus flower. The lotus flower is a common plant with round seeds, which have a dark red hue in some cases. The swallow snacks the seeds and the color is transferred to the mouth. Think of how a sucker can change the color of a child's mouth to red, blue, green, and much more. As the birds generate saliva, it mixes with the color of the lotus seeds and creates blood-colored bird's nests.
Where to Buy Authentic Blood Bird's Nest and How to Avoid Fakes
How Fake Blood Bird's Nests are Made
Due to the high cost of blood bird's nests, many fake red nests are currently on the market. The criminals behind fake red bird's nests usually use red-tinted sodium nitrate to color the nests. Although they look authentic in the box, these nests' red color tends to bleed when you soak them before cooking.
Where to Buy Authentic Blood Bird's Nests
The best way to avoid fakes is to buy from a reputable company like Golden Nest. Golden Nest’s quality control process makes sure that every red bird's nest you get is authentic and made from a natural process free of dangerous chemicals used in excess by criminals.