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Bird’s Nests

Birds Nest

With the award season fast approaching, I am always on the look out for new ideas for  appetizers. I have a few requirements: they should be easy to grab and eat in one bite, preferably crunchy and tasty, and look beautiful on a serving plate. And if you have any left, they can be served the next day with a salad for lunch.

This appetizer is gluten-free, pretty and quite original. I got the idea from a photo on Instagram of a tiny bird’s nest. You can make the nest with either rice noodles or rice. Both make clean little nests that can be filled with all kinds of fun tid bits. This is where you can get really creative and colorful.

Making the nests

I have experimented with rice noodles (thin, or clear) and white rice. They all work as long as you make sure that you cook the rice or noodles the day before and you are preparing it on the dry side. That’s very important because you are going to deep frying the nest and of the rice is on the wet side, they won’t hold very well.

Shaping the nests
A small metal strainer works best to form them because it can withstand hot oil. Place a large tablespoon of cooked rice or rice noodles in the strainer. Use a soup spoon or your thumb to push down the middle section an create the shape of a nest. At this point, you are ready to fry the nest.

Frying the nests
Once the oil is hot enough (test by dropping a grain of rice and see if it sizzles), lower the strainer in the hot oil. Be careful to always hold the handle above the basket when lifting it. You don’t want any hot oil to roll down the handle (done it, not fun!) It will take about a minute to crisp top and bottom.

frying the nests

Using a soup spoon and gently lift the nest and place on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat with the rest of the rice or noodles. Set aside.

fried nests


This part comes together pretty quickly and mostly requires to finely dice fresh vegetables like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, shallots, avocado etc. The fresh vegetables balance perfectly the crispy fried nests. You can play with the colors and the flavors. It is fun. Depending on the mood, you can try Mexican (salsa, black beans), Indian (curry). You get the idea.


Birds Nest

Bird's Nests

Crispy little rice cups filled with finely diced fresh vegetables marinated in a wasabi mayo make the best appetizer.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Comfort food
Servings 4


  • Small metal strainer



  • 1.5 cups white rice or thin rice noodles
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch salt
  • frying oil


  • 1 medium finely diced cucumber
  • 5-6 cherry tomatoes finely diced
  • 2 medium shallots peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 avocado diced
  • 1/3 cup black olives
  • fresh cilantro

Wasabi Mayo

  • 1/3 cup vegan mayo
  • 1-2 tsp wasabi paste
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • pinch of salt


Cook the rice

  • Prepare the rice the day before or in the morning so that it has time to cool down.
  • Cover 2 cups of white rice with water and swosh it well. Drain and repeat until the water comes out clear to remove excess starch.
  • Bring the water to a boil and add the rice (1 cup of rice with 1.25 water with a pinch of salt) cover and simmer for 12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and keep it covered for 5-10 minutes.

Prepare the filling

  • Finely dice a peeled cucumber, cherry tomatoes, shallots, avocado and place in a bowl.
  • Prepare the wasabi dressing: mix 2-3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise with 2 tsp wasabi paste, 1 tbsp maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Add a little water if you want it thinner.
  • Pour the dressing and mix the vegetables.

Make the nests

  • Place some paper towels on a plate.
  • Heat up a few cups of oil in a small pan. You will know the oil is hot enough by dropping a grain of rice and see if it sizzles. If it does you are ready.
  • Place a heaping tablespoon of cooked cold rice in a small metal strainer. Push down the middle with a spoon or your thumb to create an indent.
    frying the nests
  • Gently lower the strainer in the hot. Be careful to always keep the handle up so that no hot oil trickles down the handle.
  • Fry for a minute until the the nests are crispy.
  • Using a soup spoon and gently lift the nest and place on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil.
  • Repeat with the rest of the rice or noodles. Let the nests cool down before filling them up.

Fill the nests

  • Spoon some of the fresh vegetables in each nest and top with some fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Serve immediately.
Keyword gluten-free appetizer



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