Recipe and commentary by Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley from the article “Unwanted Parts” from the October-November 2022 issue.
“But I take this no-waste attitude with me in the field and in my approach to wild-game cooking: Shoot only what I can eat, and what I kill, may I do it justice in the kitchen. And that’s on me—the bird can’t be blamed for lazy cooking…While I hope to never have to hunt out of desperation, I do feel a responsibility to myself and my quarry to keep a little of that spirit alive. Here are some of my favorite recipes so that you can take advantage of every tasty morsel and not neglect the ‘unwanted parts.'”
- 8 whole quail, plucked
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons rice cooking wine (Sha oxing wine)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- Canola/peanut/vegetable oil, enough for deep frying
- 4 limes, juiced
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch Vietnamese coriander (Persi caria odorata), optional
Combine soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, five-spice powder, ginger, rice cooking wine, garlic, and shallot in a small bowl. Place quail in a large Ziploc bag and pour in marinade; massage bag to evenly distribute marinade. Refrigerate quail for at least 1 hour, preferably 8 hours. Flip the bag halfway through.
Take quail out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before frying. Remove ginger and shallot. Leave the birds whole for frying, or spatchcock and cut them in half, which might make them easier to cook and eat.
In a medium-to-large saucepan, pour enough oil to fully submerge 2 to 3 birds at once. Heat oil to 325 degrees. Allow marinade to drip off quail before placing them in the hot oil to avoid splattering. Fry quail for about 5 minutes, and do not crowd the pan. Keep fried quail warm in the oven while you fry the remainder. Keep an eye on oil temperature.
Mix lime juice with salt and pepper to taste. If using coriander, remove leaves, discarding stems.
Serve fried quail with seasoned lime juice in ramekins on the side for dipping. This dish is traditionally eaten by hand and served with fresh Vietnamese coriander leaves, which are bunched into each bite of quail.
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