Bird’s Nest

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

bird’s nest the eponymous ingredient of Chinese bird’s nest soup is an expensive delicacy. The nests belong to a species of swiftlet, Collocalia whiteheadi, which is found in the Philippines and New Guinea. Patricia Arroyo Staub (1982) has explained that

The gathering of these nests is a formidable task of the intrepid souls who scale cliffs and mountains. Contrary to popular belief, the bird’s nests are not found in the faces of cliffs but in caves. Hence the gathering involves work in the nooks and crannies of caves which are dark and slippery. This makes it a rare and highly prized delicacy which is most precious to a Chinese food gourmet and which has become popular among Filipinos…. However, due to its ability to swell in boiling water, very small amounts are needed to make soup.