February 12, 2008

Pan-Cooked Vietnamese Quail

Pan-Cooked Quail, Vietnamese Style (Before)
from the New York Times, October 18, 2006

8 quail
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon or more freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup lime juice or rice vinegar
1/2 cup nam pla or soy sauce
4 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn
Chopped fresh cilantro, mint or Thai basil leaves (or a combination), optional
Lime wedges, optional.

1. Cut along each side of breastbone of each bird, then straight down through where thigh meets body to get 2 semi-boneless halves from each bird. (Don't worry if skin holding thigh and drumstick together separates.) Combine other ingredients except oil, herb and lime wedges and marinate for at least an hour, or overnight in a refrigerator, if you have time.

2. Drain quail of marinade and strain and reserve marinade. Pat birds dry. If you have a skillet large enough to hold quail in one layer, put oil in it; if not, put 2 tablespoons of oil in each of two skillets. Turn heat to high and, when oil is hot, saute quail, skin-side down, until nicely browned, about 4 minutes. Turn and brown other side for 2 or 3 minutes, or until quail are cooked through. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

3. Lower heat and remove any excess fat from skillet (there may not be any). Add strained marinade, along with 1/4 cup water, and raise heat to high. Cook, stirring and scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan, until liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Spoon over quail and serve immediately, garnished, if you like, with herbs and lime.

Yield: 4 servings.

Pan-Cooked Quail, Vietnamese Style (After)

Notes: As you can see from the "after" picture, these were rended and devoured. Leftovers are good too. And since I didn't have fresh herbs on hand this time of year, I added about 1 tsp of dried cilantro leaves to the marinade. This had a very savory flavor which I most enjoyed.

Posted by Jennifer at February 12, 2008 8:30 PM | TrackBack

Delicious! The quail themselves were tender and flavorful, and the sauce added a nice touch. Rending the little birds while eating them was fun too. This one is a winner.

Posted by: Michael at February 12, 2008 8:53 PM

Very nice recipe! I used the nuc mam variation, with both vinegar and lime juice, because my marinade was quite sweet. For herbs, I used dried cilantro and the zest of the lime.

The horrific spectacle of the tiny butterflied corpses sizzling in my frying pan only contributed to my enjoyment, I'm afraid. They came out a bit over-caramelized (on my electric stove, even in a cast iron pan, I had a hard time getting them to brown evenly) but were still delicious.

At first I thought they were a bit reminiscent of frog's-legs, and a little fishy (that would be the nuc mam), but once I tried them actually with the very creamy reduced sauce, the flavor balanced beautifully.

Posted by: ebear at April 9, 2008 2:04 PM
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