Bird’s nest soup might be a delicacy, but there is no shortage of recipes for edible bird’s nests.
Recipes range from simple ingredients and basic processes to ingredients as exotic as the nests themselves and painstaking steps for preparation.
Because of this, you have a lot of different options for how to cook bird’s nest soup based on your skill level.
Over the next few minutes, we’ll cover how to prepare your edible bird’s nest and how to cook it in a way that brings maximum flavor, texture and nutrition to your next meal.
Here's a rundown of what we'll cover:
- Preparing your bird's nest for cooking
- Soaking the bird's nest
- Removing impurities and foreign objects
- Hot water rinse
- Cooking your bird's nest soup
- Rock sugar bird's nest soup
Preparing Your Bird’s Nest for Cooking
As you plan out your bird’s nest soup, you should plan on using about 15g of bird’s nest per person – a small kitchen scale will be helpful.
Soaking the bird’s nests
Once you’ve got your nests selected and weighed, you’ll need to move on to the soak step.
We recommend soaking your bird’s nest for 24 hours. Doing so rehydrates the nests, gives time for their yellow tint to fade and gives you a chance to spot any impurities.
Use a white bowl to soak your nests; the pale background helps you see dirt, feathers and other inclusions.
We suggest you change the water at least twice during this process, as small impurities and feathers tend to settle in the bowl.
Removing impurities and foreign objects
If you spot any impurities – pinfeathers are common – use tweezers to remove them.
While the highest-grade nests will have fewer feathers and other impurities, plan on using a few minutes during the cooking prep process to inspect your soaked nests for leftover feathers and particles.
Once you’ve picked out the impurities, run the water and the nests through a hand-held strainer to ensure the nests are clean and foreign particles are filtered out.
After the initial strain, place the nests back in your bowl and add hot water. This final step is one additional rinse – it is vitally important that you present the nests in their purest form.
Cooking Your Bird’s Nest Soup
Now that your bird’s nests are clean, soft and ready to cook, you have a variety of options for authentic edible bird’s nest dishes.
Egg and Ginger Bird’s Nest Soup
A popular version of bird’s nest soup includes Golden Nest edible bird’s nests, soy sauce, white pepper, ginger and egg whites.
Pour two cups of chicken stock into a small saucepan and add two slices of ginger. Add your bird’s nests, a dash of rice cooking wine vinegar (2 tsp) and a splash of soy sauce (1 tsp).
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove ginger. Add a teaspoon of tapioca starch mixed with water.
The final step is to stir in one beaten egg white. The stirring is important here – it keeps the egg white from clumping up and provides an excellent aesthetic.
Garnish with small bits of diced ham and scallions.
Rock Sugar Bird’s Nest Soup
While many bird’s nest soups are intended as a pre-dinner starter or part of the main course, there are a significant number of recipes devoted to using edible bird’s nests as a dessert item.
One of the most popular methods of cooking a bird’s nest dessert is boiling the nests with rock sugar, ginseng and red Chinese dates.
This recipe is pretty simple. Pour four cups of water into a small saucepan, add three to four slices of ginseng, five dried dates and two ounces of yellow rock sugar.
Bring to a boil, then let it cool to room temperature. Once the liquid has cooled, add two bird’s nests and serve.
Reminders for Cooking Bird’s Nests
When you’re boiling a soup that includes bird’s nests, be sure to monitor the nests. If you leave them boiling for too long, they’ll dissolve into the water and lose their gelatin-like texture.
Second, be as methodical as you can with the cleaning process. You don’t want any feathers, bits of dirt or other objects in your food.
Tweezers are an excellent way to remove any foreign objects because they are precise – heavy-handed cleaning can break the nests fibers down into smaller chunks and mar the consistency of your dish.
We recommend using only the highest-grade nests for cooking. However, we offer varying levels of bird’s nests ranging from AAA (highest) down to C (lowest). Our grading system accounts for color, size and shape.