Bird's Nest Soup
Be sure to take extra care when preparing this expensive delicacy. Combine bird's nest with rock sugar and water for a sweet dessert soup.
4 ounces bird's nest
Basic Chicken Velvet (page 160), use the amounts specified in the recipe
6 cups stock or broth
1½ teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
⅛ teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
2 green onions, minced
¼ cup ham, chopped
To prepare the bird's nest, soak overnight in water. Drain thoroughly. Spread out the bird's nest and use tweezers to carefully remove any foreign materials or dirt. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and simmer the bird's nest for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and check again for any foreign material.
Prepare the Basic Chicken Velvet.
Bring stock or broth to a boil. Add the bird's nest and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the rice wine, salt, and sugar.
Fold in the Basic Chicken Velvet and bring the soup back up to a boil. Add the white pepper. Stir in the green onions and ham or add after serving as a garnish.
Exotic Bird's Nest
Not keen to try a soup filled with twigs and branches? Actually, bird's nest isn't made from traditional nesting materials. Instead, the swiftlet — a type of swallow — makes a nest using its own saliva, which hardens upon exposure to air. The swiftlet inhabits remote caves in China and Southeast Asia. Retrieving the nests can be hazardous; the men who perform this task often come from families that have been earning their living in this manner for generations.