Salt and spicy quail

By John Hodson
Serves 4

8 fresh brown quail - butterflied/spatchcocked

6 teaspoons salt

4 teaspoons black peppercorns - crushed

4 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or Japanese mirin

2 cloves garlic - finely chopped

2 small fresh chillies - finely chopped

3-4 tablespoons plain flour

sunflower oil - for cooking

1 whole lemon - quartered

3 bunches bok choy or Chinese vegetable - chopped

1½-2 cups basmati rice

¼ cup coconut milk

hot chilli sauce or sambal - to taste (optional side for hot food lovers)

Chinese oyster sauce (optional accompaniment drizzled over vegetables)


1 Mix the salt, crushed peppercorns, Chinese five spice, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine/mirin, garlic and chilli in a bowl. Marinate the quail in the mix and refrigerate for a few hours, or preferably overnight, periodically turning and brushing the mix over the birds.

2 Start to boil or steam your rice.

3 Remove the quail from the marinade, coat each quail with flour and dust off any excess.

4 Quarter-fill a wok with sunflower oil and heat to around 180C. Fry the quail for about 2-3 minutes each side. You can cook a little longer to suit tastes, but avoid overcooking. Transfer the quail to a plate lined with paper towel to drain the excess oil and cover with foil.

5 Remove most of the oil from the wok, fry the bok choy for a few minutes, then transfer to a bowl and drizzle with oyster sauce.

6 When the rice is almost ready, add the coconut milk, stir well, then cook, covered, for a few minutes to allows the coconut milk to infuse the rice.

7 Serve the quail with the rice and bok choy, garnish with a piece of lemon and accompany with a nice chilled white wine.