If you read my kimchi recipe, you’ll have seen that I bought some quail eggs at Renae’s Pantry last week. I couldn’t resist – they were sitting on the counter and looked liked tiny little candy-shelled chocolate eggs with their beautiful speckled shells. Not knowing how to cook something has never stopped me from buying it – every day’s a school day, right?
Quail eggs are very popular in Asian countries where they are often eaten as a snack. When we lived in Thailand there were often street stalls selling tiny little fried eggs with a drizzle of fish sauce and chopped chillis.
After flicking through my recipe books and reading what the Google had to say, I decided that I would make tea-infused quail eggs which are a traditional snack in China. They have a bit of wow factor with their beautiful marbled pattern and would make a interesting addition to dinner party canapes.
Here’s my take on this tasty little morsel:
Tea-Infused Quail Eggs
Makes 1 dozen eggs
12 quail eggs
500ml strong black chinese tea (lapsang souchong gives a lovely smokey flavour)
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp shaoxing cooking wine
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
salt and ground szechuan peppercorns to serve.
1. Brew your tea for a good five minutes or so until it is nice and strong and dark coloured.
2. Place your eggs in a saucepan of cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook eggs for two minutes, then drain and run under cold water until cool.
3. Tap the eggs on the benchtop or with a spoon, all over, until the shells have a crazed pattern effect. This is how you achieve that beautiful marbled pattern. Do not peel the eggs!
4. In a saucepan, bring the tea to a boil then add the soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, star anise and cinnamon.
5. Add the eggs to the saucepan and cook for 15 minutes, making sure the liquid doesn’t boil dry (cover the pan if necessary).
6. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them and place on your serving plate. This part is fiddly so you’ll just have to think happy thoughts and get on with it. Tip – the eggs are easier to peel if they are still warm so don’t allow them to cool too much.
7. Mix 1 tbsp salt with 1 tbsp szechuan peppercorns and use this to dip the eggs into.
Serve with a soup and other Chinese finger food such as dim sum. We ate ours with spinach and tofu soup.
by Mel Duncan