Bird's Nest Soup

Serves 6

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.

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