Homemade baked Little Bird’s Nest in sambal, mushroom and porto sauce

Posted: August 14, 2013 in Belgian, Belgium, Cook Your Books, Eggs, Little Thumbs Up!, Main Course, Meat, Savoury, Western
Tags: , , , ,

Nope, this is not the bird’s nest done the Chinese way. It has nothing to do with swallows’ nest, which is synonymous to the bird’s nest soup we are akin to as the medicinal delicacy made from the salivary excretions of the cave swift(lets).

I was introduced to this dish in Belgium by my late Mother-in-law (MIL) in 1995. The classic Flemish bird’s nest is actually the encasing of a hardboiled egg in minced meat.  Sounds familiar?  I guess you would call it by Scotch eggs (in the UK) or Nargisi Kofta (Moghul kitchen).  In the Netherlands and Belgium, these are called “Vogelnestje”, literally translated as “little bird’s nest”

1. Bird's Nest1

A frugal meal

People may have associated Scotch eggs as an invention by the Scots, but there are many legends and history that have proven otherwise. Let’s just say that the Scotch eggs’ origins are rather obscure. You can check this out on the web.

If you don’t already know, “scotch” also means avoiding waste, hence would match the definition of an “economical meal”. Scotch eggs, a frugal meal make more sense 😀

My Scotch egg or better known in Flanders as “little bird’s nest” is based on Jeroen Meus’ recipe.  Jeroen is a very popular TV chef in Flanders. At the same time he runs his own restaurant called, Luzine in Wilsele and he also whipped up 4 recipe books ‘Dagelijkse Kost 1, 2, 3 and 4.  The 5th book will be on the shelf very soon.

By the way, I am the proud owner of all his 4 recipe books and will gladly buy his 5th. His recipes are no-nonsense, easy to follow and very honest and straightforward.

The “Vogelnestje” is from his 2nd book.  I have adapted the recipe with some modifications.

Ingredients –

(Makes 6 “bird’s nests”)

  • 600g minced meat (I used 1 kg)
  • 4 eggs + 1 extra egg (I used 6 eggs + 1 extra egg for binding)
  • 2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (I used a bit more than 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 knob of butter (I used olive oil)
  • Nutmeg
  • Pepper (freshly milled black pepper)
  • Salt to taste

2. Bird's Nest_ingredients1

The Tomato Sauce (Own version)

  • 2 onions (I used 1 large onion)
  • Olive oil
  • 800g tomatoes (I used 2 big tomatoes, skinned and diced finely)
  • 80g of concentrated tomato paste (I used supercirio tomato paste)
  • 1 tsp sambal, to taste (I used 1 tsp of Mae Ploy chilli shrimp paste + 1/2 tsp Mae Pranom shrimp flavoured crushed chilli)
  • 1 tsp sugar (I omitted sugar but used about 1/3 chicken stock cube)
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh thyme (I used dried thyme)
  • Fresh oregano (I used dried oregano)
  • 5 cl red wine (I used a dash of Sandeman Ruby Porto)
  • Mushrooms, thinly sliced (these are not on the recipe)

Mashed potatoes or fries (I made wedged herbed potatoes)

3. Bird's Nest_ingredients2

Method –

The bird’s nest –

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the 6 eggs and count 9 to 10 minutes.
  • Cool the eggs under cold running water and peel them.  Set aside.
  • Take a large bowl and add the ground meat with a pinch of salt and freshly milled black pepper.
  • Add the extra egg and combine this to the meat mixture.
  • Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the meat and grate some fresh nutmeg, to taste.
  • Wash your hands and knead the meat to a firm but not too dry mixture
  • Divide the meat mixture to 6 meatballs
  • Put the ball in your hand, flatten each meatball and push the centre to form a well and place a hard-boiled egg into the well. Cover the entire egg with the meat, rolling the meat with your hands until you get a smooth meatball surface.
  • Place the bird’s nests in an oven dish

4. Bird's Nest_egg shaped minced

  • Preheat the oven to 180° C
  • Put a frying pan over medium heat, melt a knob of butter (Note: I omitted this step.  I baked my bird’s nests in the oven with some olive oil, turning once or twice until the crusts turned golden brown)
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Check if the meat is cooked by inserting a toothpick in the meatball. If the toothpick comes out dry, the meat is cooked.5. Bird's Nest_oven baked1

Method –

The sauce –

  • Place a casserole over medium high heat and drizzle some olive oil.
  • Peel and chop the onion coarsely
  • Sauté the onion and stir frequently
  • Add a spoonful of sugar (I replaced sugar with some chicken stock cube), the concentrated tomato paste and the chilli shrimp paste.
  • Keep stirring and then pour the ruby porto (in lieu of red wine) until the alcohol evaporates.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and the sliced mushrooms.
  • Sprinkle the herbs in the pot and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
  • Taste the sauce for seasoning before serving.

How to serve –

  • Cut each meatball in half and place the halves on a serving plate.

I served my bird’s nest with homemade baked potato wedges and braised Belgian endives (witloof) with the special sambal and porto sauce.  It was scrumptious!

6a. Bird's Nest3

6b. Bird's Nest4

6c. Bird's Nest5

I’m quite sure I’ve done justice to Jeroen’s “Vogelnestje” 😉

I am submitting this post to the Little Thumbs up event with the August theme “EGGS”, hosted by Yen from Eat your heart out organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids


As well as to –

Cook-Your-Books #3  organized by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours

Cook Your Books

Ciao and enjoy the rest of the week!

  1. melharry says:

    wow. Mesti sedap. Simple looking dish but it all adds up. I love eggs..i think i have had this before but i can’t remember where. Surely your boys will love it.. As always…’mama can cook very well ahh’…. ♡ cheers.

  2. Zoe says:

    When I saw your title, my face frown instantly!!! – I asked myself how to eat bird’s nest in sambal sauce!!! Then, I realise that I have misunderstood your meaning of bird nest… I was thinking of the sweet kind of bird’s nest that we eat for dessert… ha ha ha!

    No doubt that this meatball version bird’s nest are yummy in your Italian-Southeast-Asian sambal sauce 😀 – No frown now!!! – LOL!


  3. Oh my, this looks delicious! I have seen a similar recipe before and thought it is so delicious, hard-boiled eggs encased in delicious “meatloaf”! I was actually really very curious to try it out, perhaps one day I shall! Wish I could have one right now!
    Thanks for linking to CYB!

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Da. Yep, this is one of the most economical dishes – wholesome, yet tasty :-D. According to the chef, the real cost per portion is Eur 3, however, his sauce version is with red wine and tomato sauce – no mushrooms, hence my real cost per portion should be a bit more 🙂

  5. Nasifriet says:

    Ha ha ha! The title is perhaps the most literal translation I could come up with 😀

    It’s a very simple dish, a really all-in-one, I would think, and kids LURVE these “vogelnestjes” (little bird’s nests). The sauce to go with the scotch eggs can be varied of course 😉

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Yes, they were delicious. I will definitely make them again, for sure. Be curious no more and do try it out. It’s really simple to make. The original recipe requires deep fat frying, but I prefer the easier way out. The meatballs actually browned pretty well in the oven without even pre frying in the pan. I just skipped that step and the dish turned out very well 😀

  7. Baby Sumo says:

    Hi Nasifriet, thanks so much for linking this to LTU and great to know you through LTU. I actually planned to make mini scotch eggs too for this event but I don’t have enough time to psot them this month. Will maybe attempt them later.

    Your little birds nest looks great, and thx for sharing how to make this in the oven, as I hate deep frying! 😉

  8. Kimmy says:

    Hi Nasifriet, very nice. Like your way instead of deep frying. Yummy!

  9. melharry says:

    Tambah agik asian fusion..kei cabik thai. Mun u engkah corriander pun nyaman and tambah grilled asparagus. Mom said she wants to make them too….sien teguoh mi nou ureu suka angai misiek, padahal agei umiek sien da suka subet inou2 kat dapuer. Hahahaha…..akou tegu’oh well mun bei family on our own and tambah stay jauh2 mcm tok sometimes you need too.

  10. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Kimmy.

    That’s right. I prefer to make my dishes without going in the fryolater (deep fat fryer) 😀 They taste as good in the oven and a lot healthier 😀

  11. Nasifriet says:

    Ha ha ha! Mum always knows best. Sien taau akou ;-D
    Tapi akou suka pugui cookery channel on Sunday morning jegem sien (after mass). And that’s right about having our own family. Aniek akou suka keman, so no choice lor…Ha ha ha..

  12. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Baby Sumo,
    I was really happy you hosted the “EGGS” event. There are a million and one things to do with eggs. The first thing that struck my mind was this scotch eggs. That was the 2nd time I’ve made since I came to Belgium. The first time, I shallow fried them first to sear the meat before putting them in the oven, then I thought, why waste time with the extra washing and the spattering of the oil all over the stove? This 2nd attempt of oven-baked from start to finish was a “guinea pig” attempt and I was really happy they turned out so well, but you need to peek in the oven to check that the meat browned on the crust :-D.

    I will definitely stick to this method.

    Hope to come up with some more eggy dishes 😀

  13. Phong Hong says:

    Wow! It looks terribly delicious! I have got to try this dish 🙂

  14. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks Phong Hong,

    It was delicioius indeed. I love this kind of hassle-free dish 😀

  15. […] Homemade baked Little Bird’s Nest in sambal, mushroom and porto sauce […]

  16. Sophiarajah says:

    I wish i was living in yr kitchen… Scary thought i know but u make me hungry!!

  17. Nasifriet says:

    Ha ha ha! Good one, Sophia. I don’t cook everyday, and if I do, I’d find a hassle-free recipe or “cook in bulk”, ie extremely busy one day, rest 2 or 3 days and start all over again… 🙂

  18. […] the other side of the riverbank, I saw the famous Sandeman Porto Wine Cellars, which wine I have used in my cooking or just drink it as apéritif. Too bad, we did not do […]

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