Crisp quail with fragrant salt

Crisp quail with fragrant salt

By
From
New Middle Eastern Food
Serves
4 as part of a mezze selection
Photographer
Mark Roper

While the spices in this dish are a classic Lebanese combination, the technique is a Chinese method which I learnt during my time in Hong Kong. Dunking the birds quickly into boiling stock has the effect of tightening the skin, without cooking the flesh. Then when you fry or roast them, you get a wonderfully crisp, parchment-like skin. You can use this method with all poultry or game birds.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 litres water
150ml cider vinegar
8 x 200g jumbo quail
2 teaspoons Fragrant salt
1 large thumb fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 star anise
400ml vegetable oil

Method

  1. Put the water and vinegar into a large non-reactive pan and bring to the boil. When bubbling away, drop in a quail and leave it for 10–15 seconds. Remove and refresh the bird in cold water before patting dry. Repeat with the remaining birds, then put them in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 6 hours, to dry completely.
  2. When you are ready to fry the quail, season them all over with the fragrant salt. Heat a medium-sized heavy-based pot. Add the ginger and star anise to the dry pot and move them around over the heat to release the aromatic oils. Carefully pour in the vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread sizzles to the surface. Drop in four of the quails, breast side down, and fry for 2–3 minutes. The quails won’t be fully immersed in oil, so you’ll need to gently shake the pan so the bubbling oil swirls around them. Once they start to turn golden, turn them over and fry for another few minutes.
  3. Remove the birds from the oil and sit them on paper towel for a few minutes to absorb any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining 4 birds. Serve them straight away as a starter, perhaps with a little watercress salad.
Tags:
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Middle
Eastern
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