05 August 2010
Tea Crazed Quail Eggs
How should I use a dozen beautiful quail eggs in a way that takes optimum advantage of their unique attributes? That question has been on my mind ever since I first saw these delightful little eggs at the Camas Farmer’s Market several weeks ago.
The small size of quail eggs lends them the quality of being both precious and cute. Their beautiful coloring, creamy backgrounds leaning toward tan or blue, speckled and splotched with bronzy browns, makes their shells appealing. Inside, the shell softly suggests a shade of robin’s egg blue. The yolk is surprisingly large, taking up more comparative volume than the yolk of a chicken egg. This lends a rich flavor to the egg, a flavor very similar to a chicken egg but slightly more so.
At the booth where I purchased the quail eggs it was suggested that they would make a terrific omelette. Because they were so fresh (gathered just that morning) I was told they would be particularly fluffy. The suggestion was tempting but, while a fluffy omelette is never a bad way to go, I wanted to try some other things first. I wanted to cook the quail eggs in a way that would show off their cute size and maybe leave some of the shell intact. Hard boiling was the obvious choice. The trick was working out how much time was required.
After a bit of experimentation I came up with a method that worked well for hard boiling the eggs. Then to carry it one step farther I decided to try a recipe for Tea Eggs. Tea Eggs give a wonderful marbled appearance to a hard boiled egg while infusing it with a slightly sweet spiciness. I found the result quite intriguing. It gave me just what I was looking for, a unique presentation of the unique little eggs I had found. Of course that was just the beginning…
Hard Boiled Quail Eggs
Place the eggs, cold from the refrigerator, in a small saucepan. Cover them with cold tap water.
Bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Just when it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low.
Continued to boil for 1½ minutes.
Remove pan from heat. Immediately rinse eggs in cold water and allow to rest in the cold water until completely cool.
Note: Times will vary slightly based on the size of the eggs. By this method my eggs were cooked through but the yolks were not crumbly. They retained a creamy texture and deep color at the very center.
Soft Cooked Quail Eggs
Fill a small saucepan with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil.
Carefully drop in the quail eggs. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the eggs to sit in the water for 3 - 3½ minutes. Drain and rinse the eggs in cold water. Allow them to sit in cold water (to stop the cooking) until completely cool or ready to serve.
Again, cooking times will vary based on the size of the egg and the degree of firmness desired.
Tea Crazed Quail Eggs
based on a recipe from Cooking Cute
6-8 quail eggs, hard boiled
2 cups water
1 teabag of black tea (I used Lady Grey)
1 star anise
½ stick of cinnamon (2 inches)
2 teaspoons tamari sauce
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
Take the quail eggs and gently roll them on the counter top or hit them with the back of spoon so that the shell is gently cracked all over. Try not to break through the membrane just under the shell. Set aside.
Place the water and the next seven ingredients in a small (2 quart) saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Gently place the quail eggs in the mixture and reduce to a low boil.
Continue boiling gently for 1 to 2 hours, checking and adding more water occasionally so that the quail eggs are fully immersed at all times.
After an hour or so remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool slightly. When cool enough transfer the mixture to a glass container and refrigerate overnight (or up to several days.)
When ready to serve remove the egg from the mixture and rinse. Carefully peel away the shell and serve with salt. pepper and/or five spice powder.