Equus
 
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2003 04:46 pm
Last night on "Iron Chef" the featured ingredient was "Swallow's Nest", which apparently is extremely expensive.

What is "swallow's nest?" Is it actually birds nest, or is it some sort of plant that goes by that name. It looked like shredded coconut to me. The nature site I looked up said that swallows make their nests with clay held together with their own spit. That doesn't sound like food to me.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,857 • Replies: 16
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Olen
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Sep, 2003 10:58 pm
Yes, swallow's nests are used as a food.The Chinese consider that there are many health benefits from eating them as an ingredient of soups and stews. They raise swallows under houses and in other protected places for the nests. The nests have been used as food for many centuries. They are expensive and are imported mostly from the Orient. I might add, that the nests are avlilable in several quality levels. The higher the quality, the more expensive. The sell completely processed nests, partially processed and as collected. The completely processed ones are clear of non-nutritious parts of the construction materials like the dried mud. They have a processing and packaging plant, and ship all over the world.
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kev
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 12:45 am
I'll stick with the roast lamb.
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Olen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 03:19 am
kev: I understand that those nests taste like chicken, or is is roast lamb. Smile
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kev
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 04:29 am
Olen, that may be true but they dont looklike roast lamb
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Olen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 07:44 am
kev: Speaking of eating food from an unexpected source. I was visiting a resort in Baja California in the heat of the summer, so my friend and myself were the only guests at that time.
When dinner time came, the two chefs wanted to prepare us a special meal. When the food came to the table, it was beautifully presented. On the plate was a succulent steak with mashed potatoes and au jus from the meat, green peas and a sauce for the steak. It was the most delicious veal steak I have ever eaten. The chefs came to the table and asked how we liked the steak, and of course we praised it very highly. It was acually from a section of a giant sea turtle. They said that different sections of the turtle tasts like meat from different animals. The flavors are chicken, ham, beef, elk and others. Our "veal" came from right center of the back of the turtle. :-o
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 07:51 am
Mmmm....turtle.....interesting story...however, it is good professional etiquette to tell the diner what they are eating beforehand, despite the natural instinct of the chef to want to surprise people (I'm a chef, I know). Swallow's nest, like many ingredients in Asian cuisine, is more prized for it's texture, and ability to absorb other flavours, than for it's flavour itself, which is, quite frankly, almost non-existent.
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Olen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 08:05 am
cavfancier: Thank you for your interesting and informative response. It is nice to know a real chef. You are like a doctor on this thread, always being asked for free advice.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 08:08 am
Interesting thread. I remember seeing an article (national geographic?) about the traditional method of collecting swallow's nests. There were photos of huge caves or hollows in the cliffs and old rickety ladders and scaffolding to support the collectors' weight. I wonder if I can find the photo.

And

No eat sea turtle. bad bad. Don't you guys know that the giant sea turtle is endangered?
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 08:22 am
Thanks Olen. And, littlek, not all sea turtles are endangered, if a restaurant was caught serving an endangered species, that would be it for them. Most turtle you find in restaurants these days is farm-raised. Here is just one example, with some good info:

http://www.turtle.ky/scientific/culture.htm
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 08:45 am
good to see that site, thanks cav!
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Olen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 08:54 am
cavfancier: Thanks for the turtle information. I am around all kinds of turtles when I fly to Mexico. One place is Bahia Tortugas, where there are thousands of turtles. There are turtle farms on the east coast of Baja California too. I know quite a bit more about them now.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 08:57 am
I'm here to serve, so to speak. Smile
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Olen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 23 Sep, 2003 09:24 am
Had I not chosen the profession I did, I am sure it would have been in the culinary arts. I have always admired professional chefs. I have known some with experience at famous restaurants and went to schools all over the world. I know a chef that runs the crew at the Orovau Restaurant on the island of Moorea, next door to Tahiti. He worked for years as a Master Chef in many restaurants, and has settled on the South Pacific to serve the rest of his career. It takes lots of training and experience to learn what combinations of spices and foods it takes to stimulate the taste buds, and have their owners coming back for more.
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Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2003 09:49 pm
I saw a tv program about the same caves that littlek mentioned. It was fascinating watching how the men constructed the rope ladders and the unbelievable heights they climbed to harvest the nests.
On the show, they said the bird's nest was made from regurgitated fish. If anyone has tasted the soup, could you tell me if all bird's nests or swallow nests are the same thing. Do they all taste like fish?
I'm allergic to fish, so I've never attempted ordering this particular delicacy.
Thanks, Ceili
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Jin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 26 Oct, 2003 11:19 pm
I was Iron Chef on the food network and I had the same question in mind, what the heck is Swallow's nest. I didn't know if they said what is was in the beginning because I didn't catch it. Thank God someone knows what it is!
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Charli
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Oct, 2003 08:38 am
URL from Chine Food site


SWALLOW'S NEST

**************************************************************

"Latin: Collocalia fuciphaga

"Origin: Swallows or swifts make nests by regurgitating gelatinous substances, or the saliva. The nests are called swallow's nest. It is also referred to as bird's nest.

"Swallow is the bird Collocalia fuciphaga (Edible-nest Swiftlet), belonging to the Apodidae family and many other birds of the same breed.

"Swallow's nest consumption has been known by the Chinese for thousands of years, and people especially those riches love it and consider it as one of the most precious tonic food they can have. As a food and a tonic, it is said to be highly nourishing, containing with elements which can stimulate cell and epidermal growth. If the swallow's nest is taken regularly, so the tradition says, the skin will be glowing and delicate. Swollow's nest is also good for the eyes. It is beneficial to the elderly and those who have just recovered from illness. . . . "
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