Thursday, 24 July 2014

Crispy Quail Eggs with Asparagus and Herbed Mayonnaise

The Internet is full of interesting things, as we know. Cats and bacon mostly, but also Pinterest. Pinterest is full of things we would like to do but mostly never will. Such as making a pallet coffee table and teaching our children basically everything glows, including bubbles, silly putty, their bedroom ceiling and rocks in the garden. If we think our current generation is one of entitlement, wait until this next generation walks into the office of the CEO demanding not raises, but glow-in-the-dark ergonomic standing desks. The Apocalypse cometh. 

Now, not everything on Pinterest is unachievable, as Kelly showed us a few posts ago. Her Tarte aux Pommes is pretty bang on. Emboldened by her courage, the other day I bought quail eggs in the grocery store. “Quail eggs!” I thought to myself, “Now THESE will make a jazzy blog post.”

And so to the World Wide Web I go. Typing in “Quail Egg recipes” to Google gets you lots of options. Perhaps foolishly, I chose a BBC Food recipe without a picture. I mused about the fact there was no picture only for a moment, and then chalked it up to those cheeky Brits and their stiff upper lip.

In retrospect, I feel there should at least be a note about what you’re getting into with their crispy quail egg portion. If you find peeling regular eggs to be a burdensome task, you’ll really hate peeling quail eggs. Because you know what’s annoying about it? Everything. The shell doesn’t come off in large flakes, as it does with a run of the mill chicken egg, rather, it comes off a small grains of eggshell, leaving your kitchen sink resembling the beach on Sanibel Island. A photo to reassure people that if you put your thumbnail through at least three partially raw quail eggs, you are not to blame. The nature of the egg is to blame.

Now, the recipe does give us some very serious measurements and directions about the quail eggs, including cooking them for “EXACTLY ONE MINUTE” in boiling water and soaking them in vinegar for half an hour after this. Perhaps the ice bath or the vinegar soak is to help mitigate the disaster that is peeling them. I don’t know. I only followed the directions casually, rather than scientifically, so you can feel free to scold me in the comments for my lackadaisical attitude.
Mayonnaise in the making

Here’s what I did.

1.     Start by boiling up your quail eggs. If you are serving this to more than just you and your dog, you probably want to cook quite a few extras, because they are just tiny, and you’ll likely smash at least one in sheer frustration. Boil them for as close to a minute as possible, because you want them still quite raw in the middle for the deep fry portion.

2.     Put those in a vinegar ice bath. Now, BBC recommends malt vinegar, which I also ignored by assuming it was a translation thing between Canada and the UK, and I used white vinegar. This did nothing as far as I can tell, so if you have malt vinegar, use it.

3.     Now we’ll make the herb mayo. This requires an egg yolk*, some white wine vinegar, Dijon, herbs (your choice, I used sage and parsley because that’s what I had on hand), and olive oil. The easiest way to make mayonnaise is in a blender because that ensures it emulsifies, but you can whisk your little wrist off too. Start with your herbs and olive oil. Then blend your egg yolk**, Dijon and vinegar in. Whisk aggressively, or blend until smooth.

*Save the egg white for your quail egg batter
** This recipe is rife with salmonella- there’s a raw egg around every corner. Watch yourself.
4.     Put that mayonnaise in the fridge until the very last second, because food safety y’all!

5.     After half an hour, you can peel your eggs. I have no tips or suggestions for you, except to say don’t give up! You can do it. It may be even easier than I think anyway, because I have stiletto nails right now and nothing is that easy with them.

6.     Now timing is going to get a little serious. At this point, you want to bread your eggs. Using a splash of milk in that egg white you saved, give that a bit of a mix, and then dunk your eggs in it. Next, put them in seasoned breadcrumbs. I used panko with salt, pepper, cayenne and paprika. Once they’re coated, you can put them in the fridge until you’re ready to deep fry them.

7.     Now, start heating your oil for the eggs and water to steam your asparagus. Plop the asparagus in the steamer one minute before your eggs. Then fry your eggs in the oil. Even the BBC warns you about hot oil being left unattended. So don’t do that. The eggs need about one minute to get golden. Pull them out with a slotted spoon as soon as they’re golden. I think if you do this, the yolks may still be a little runny. Mine were not because I delayed getting the eggs out of the oil for fussing about the plating with the mayonnaise.

I think this looks quite lovely, even if it was a bit annoying to do. And it was delicious, so in the end it’s worth it if you need to feed and simultaneously impress people. Enjoy! And let me know your tips in the comments.

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