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Secrets of the Red Lantern (Vietnamese)
by Pauline Nguyen and Luke Nguyen
Luke Nguyen: This is a delicious and aromatic way to season quail. If you prefer, the quail can be grilled, roasted in the oven, cooked under the broiler, or simply thrown on the barbecue.
On a recent visit to Hanoi, my friend Samson and I discovered a quail and pigeon stand. After demolishing six servings, I received a phone call from my mom telling me to stay clear of all birds because something called "bird flu" had hit Vietnam. I freaked out, but as it was too late and the quail too good, we continued to order a few more servings.
Crispy Spiced Quail
(Chim Cút Chiên Dòn)
• 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 1½ teaspoons salt
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 2 star anise, crushed
• 1½ teaspoons shaoxing (Chinese rice wine)
• 1/2 cup chicken stock or water
• 6 quail
• 8 cups oil, for deep-frying
• 1 tomato, sliced
• 1 small cucumber (about 6 inches), sliced
• 1/2 bunch watercress
• 1 tablespoon dipping fish sauce
• Salt, pepper, and lemon dipping sauce, for serving (below)
Combine the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and mix well. Cut off the quail necks and cut the quail along the breastbone to open out flat. Wash away any remaining viscera under cold water, then pat dry with a paper towel. Add the quail to the marinade and leave to marinate for 2 hours in the fridge.
Put the oil in a wok or large saucepan over high heat and heat to 350°F, or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 15 seconds. Meanwhile, remove the quail from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel. When the oil reaches the correct temperature, fry the quail for 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden, then remove from the oil and cut into quarters.
Serve with a tomato, cucumber, and watercress salad dressed with dipping fish sauce, and with salt, pepper, and lemon dipping sauce to dip the quail into.
Salt, Pepper & Lemon Dipping Sauce
Makes 2 tablespoons
• 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon fine white pepper
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.
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