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Residents of an East Javanese village find a way to make a decent living feeding the bizarre habits of the wealthy. These rare nests of the swiftlet are sold at astronomical prices in the finest Chinese restaurants.

As Achmad Basuni and his wife were building their new house, great fortune suddenly flew in the window.

A pair of swallows darted into the half-finished kitchen and cast knowing eyes around the walls and rafters. Like all astute real estate buyers they knew exactly what they wanted: Security, space, a cool atmosphere, friendly co-tenants and easy access.

While any Westerner finding feathered friends moving into their kitchen would probably call a pest exterminator, this couple rejoiced. 'It's a blessing from God,' exclaimed Achmad.

The kitchen was given to the visitors and the home rapidly re-designed. When the swallows laid their first clutch, Achmad substituted a pair of swiftlets' eggs bought for Rp 60,000. The reason? Depending on the quality and season a kilo of swiftlets' nests can fetch around Rp. 10 million at the barn door.

Unlike their bigger and better travelled cousins, swiftlets build edible nests that are highly prized as the raw material for the Chinese Bird's Nest Soup. This is the Caviar of the East.

Swiftlet nests are made from the birds' saliva produced by glands under the tongue. The nests' edible qualities have been known for at least 700 years. What's not known, however, is how the discovery was made and why anyone would think a dirty nest could make a tasty dish. Our ancestors must have choked on a lot of sticks encrusted with dung and vomited feathers and broken eggs before they found an edible variety.

Since diners want more than a lip-smacking experience, though, it's no surprise the nests are supposed to possess extraordinary characteristics from improving skin tone to warding off tuberculosis, curing consumption, dysentery, malaria … the list has no full stop. And, of course, enhancing sexual performance.

The catch is that promoters say a regular diet of 10 grams a day is necessary. As well, the cooking process is critical. A microwaved or boiled nest will be nutrition-free so it's best to steam slowly after soaking. This will expand the nest. The taste is said to be sweet, more like a dessert.

In Jeru, about 20 kilometres west of Malang, news about the swallows' arrival flew around Achmad's village. Soon a stranger was making a startling offer; he'd buy their house for Rp 300 million, double its market value.

From those first two substituted swiftlet eggs, the population has grown dramatically. There are now more than 40 birds flashing in and out through small holes about the size of two bricks set high in the flat grey windowless concrete walls. After daybreak, the birds zip across to Balekambang Beach on the south coast to catch insects. They return at nightfall, covering 160 kilometres a day.

Some villagers use recorded sounds of swiftlets broadcast through speaker systems to entice passing birds to enter their barn, guiding them with a system known as echolocation.

While there are a few other lucky folk in Jeru, some rejected families are finding their neighbours' good luck difficult to swallow. 'The big problem is thieves after nests and eggs,' said Achmad. 'One farm spends Rp 2.5 million a month on security, five times the normal rate for guards.'

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Bird's Nest Soup

Soak the bird's nest overnight in fresh water. Using a fine mesh strainer drain and rinse the nest. Place in a saucepan and add 2 cups of water and the ginger slices. Simmer for 5 minutes and drain in the strainer, discarding the ginger. Pick out any impurities and add to the soup stock and simmer for 1/2 hour.
Stir in the cornstarch mixed with water and cook to thicken. Add salt to taste and pour the beaten eggs in a thin stream over the top of the soup. Read more...

Benefits of Bird Nest

Rich in protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients, bird's nest is good for all, young and old, men and women, the sick and mother-to-be. T he Chinese have been relishing bird's nest as medicinal gourmet food for centuries and believe it replenishes and nourishes the internal organs, Learn More...

About King's Nest

Started in 1995 as a bird’s nest processor and in 1996 as an exporter, King’s Nest currently exports to various destinations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, China and the United States.

King's Nest
Cupertino, California 95014
United States
Phone: +1 408 658 4954
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With our experience in bird’s nest industry, we are committed to deliver the best products and service to our valued customers.
Located in Indonesia,the country which produces eighty percent of the total bird’s nest in the world and having years of experience in bird’s nest  farming and harvesting, King’s Nest provides wide varieties of nests.