When bird’s nests is mentioned today, the country most people would associate it with is China. After all, it is one of the hallmarks of Chinese delicacy and is favourably regarded in traditional Chinese medicine for its nourishing properties. Throughout dynasties, Chinese emperors and empresses had had this precious health supplement prized for its anti-ageing and beauty properties.
However, did you know that edible bird’s nest was first discovered in Southeast Asia?
It is widely believed that the legendary navigator Admiral Zheng He from the Ming dynasty was the first person in the world to consume bird’s nest. When he sailed through the Malay Archipelago on an expedition, his crew ran into a fierce storm and were forced to stop at some islands in modern day Malaysia. While searching for food on the island, they came across nothing but swiftlet nests on a cliff. Out of hunger, they cleaned the nests, boiled and consumed them. The crew felt rejuvenated and their energy returned. Admiral Zheng He realised that bird's nest is a superior food with health benefits. He decided to bring back the bird’s nest as tribute to the emperor.Edible bird’s nest has been intricately linked with Southeast Asia for centuries - a global centre of production for over 500 years. Our prized bird's nests can only be produced in Southeast Asia. Countries in the region such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are major producers and exporters of bird's nest. Today, China remains the largest importer and consumer of edible bird's nest.