Crisp quail with fragrant salt

Crisp quail with fragrant salt

By
From
Saha
Serves
4
Photographer
Matt Harvey

While the spices in this dish are a classic Lebanese combination, the technique is a Chinese method which I learned 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
8 200 g 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 4 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 kitchen paper 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:
Saha
Malouf
Lucy
Greg
Lebanon
Lebanese
Syria
Syrian
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