According to legend, Admiral Cheng Ho of the Ming Dynasty encountered thunderstorms while sailing across the South-East seas in the 15th century. He and his crew were stranded on a Malay island and food supply. It was at this critical moment that they discovered bird’s nests on the cliffs and cooked them as food. After consuming these for some time, Admiral Cheng Ho and his crew became energetic and gained healthy complexions. The Admiral then realized that bird’s nest was a superior food that conferred health benefits, and brought some back as a gift for the emperor. Ever since then, bird’s nest has become a delicacy in traditional palace cuisine, even as it was once served in tribute to the emperor and court ministers.
There are other writings related to bird’s nest that have been recorded in the history of the Tang Dynasty. It is said that bird’s nest was the daily diet of Yang KweiFei and Empress Wu. Bird’s nest was also mentioned in Tang’s poems as an exquisite dish for generals.
According to the Compendium of MateriaMedica, a regular diet of bird’s nest can help alleviate the trachea, strengthen the body, regulate breathing, help control asthma, expel phlegm, recover vital energy, maintain beauty and extend longevity.