The dish called “Swallow’s Nest” is one of the most delicious dishes of Chinese cuisine. In addition, it always takes the most honorable places in the rating of aphrodisiacs.
Ancient Chinese legends say that a person who eats swallows ‘ nests will have excellent health almost to the very old age — as evidenced by “a beautiful complexion and hair like silk”. In Chinese medicine, dishes made from swallows ‘ nests are also considered one of the best cosmetics. In short, the Chinese are sure that the one who uses this dish regularly, will begin to age much later than other people. So it is in reality or not – we will leave it on the conscience of the Chinese, but to tell about this famous delicacy of Chinese cuisine still makes sense.
Many of us have heard of it, but few people have any idea what it is all about. What other swallows are there, and what good are they?
Those who want to encroach on the swallow’s nests that the birds have built under their windows, let’s say right away: relax and sleep peacefully — ordinary swallows, or rather their nests, are not suitable for cooking “dishes from old age”. The fact is that there are on some islands of the South China Sea-for example, in Hainan and Taiwan — high rocky caves and grottos, where one of the bird species lives, which is similar to the swallows of the swifts-salangans. They build their nests roughly on the same principle as ordinary swallows-they glue together the elements of the nests with instantly solidifying saliva. The only peculiarity is that the saliva of salangans turns out to be thin, like a steel thread, boneless fry of saury-type fish. Swallows also feed on sea eggs, which are found on seaweed and other algae near the islands. This “mixture” they glue their nests together. “Ingredients” for Chinese chefs who prepare the dish “Swallow’s Nest” are two of their types.
To prepare a dish from a swallow’s nest is not so easy. Chinese chef. Photo: Khakimullin Aleksander/TASS.
One contains more frozen bird saliva extract, and there are practically no extra impurities, since these nests were removed before the chicks hatched in them. The other nest has a completely different color – it is not white like the first one, but almost black, previously used by birds. It is more difficult to prepare a delicious dish from it, but it is still possible. It’s just that the cook has to work hard: first, he takes a long and tedious time to clean the nest of bird feathers, insects and twigs, and only then begins to prepare a meal for which many Chinese and guests of the Middle Kingdom are ready to pay a tidy sum.
Indeed, swallows ‘ nests have become one of the most expensive food items. The price is quite reasonable, considering how much time you have to tinker with them to get them to the table in the end. First, nest-gatherers, climbing on steep rocks, greatly risk their lives, getting them. Therefore, they charge a little more money for their work than an employee who has collected, for example, a basket of bananas. Secondly, the chef also worked hard, showing his highest culinary skills-not every owner of a white cap on his head can properly prepare a dish, despite its apparent simplicity.
Prepare the dish as follows: first, the bird’s nests, which are actually a fish and vegetable semi-finished product, are thoroughly dried under the sun. The size of each nest, which resembles a half of a bowl, is approximately 6-7 centimeters in diameter, and the product prepared for cooking may not deteriorate for years.
Immediately before cooking, the pieces of the nests are poured with boiling water — they are soaked for several hours, so that all the fragments of the swallow’s nest swell and their volume significantly increases. It turns out that this volume grows 10-12 times. Who knows, maybe it was this effect that convinced some impressionable natures to consider the dish “Swallow’s Nest” a powerful aphrodisiac?!
Let us return, however, to the process of cooking the dish. After “soaking” the nest, it remains only to boil it in chicken broth, which is salted, seasoned with ginger infusion and rice vodka. Without dwelling in detail on the description of some individual culinary secrets of Chinese chefs, we can say that the spicy “erotic” soup as a whole can already be eaten. The swallow’s nest itself is served on a small plate separately.
Chinese men firmly believe in the erotic power of all kinds of additives in food. Photo: TASS.
The Chinese, especially men, believe in the erotic power of the swallow’s nest. In their opinion, a person who has tasted a dish will definitely experience its positive specific effect on the body — with all the consequences that follow from this event, as they say. If the “swallow’s nest” is eaten regularly, the effect will be “long-lasting”. Some visitors to China joke that the inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom seem to have long ago discovered the beneficial effect of swallows ‘ nests on the birth rate — that’s why there are more of them in the world.
It turns out that anyone who has ever tasted a Chinese delicacy in his life begins to believe in its miraculous power. Perhaps the key word in this case is “believe”. Sometimes it helps better than eating a ton of pills. Foreigners and many Chinese residents, without stint, pay off crazy money for the “Swallow’s Nest”, maintaining their “shape”. A tiny serving of 3-4 grams of dried swallow nests is sold today for more than $ 100 – however, the price depends on many factors. Chinese cooks only regretfully raise their hands-alas, swift swallows do not multiply as quickly as the Chinese, for all the rich inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom, which every year becomes more and more, there are not enough nests. Therefore, the prices of the delicacy product are growing rapidly.