How to cook quails eggs
“How many?” Adil the farmer asks me. Actually he might just have gestured; his English and my Arabic are on a par. At 1 aed each (about 20 pence) I can afford to buy lots. He starts to count the dainty, speckled eggs into a plastic bag cushioned with strips of paper. The lady at my elbow asks “what do you do with them?”. This is part of the pleasure of shopping at the Farmers’ Market on the Terrace, the chatting, the friendly camaraderie, the exchange of information about food with people of many backgrounds and cultures.
My first ever quail egg could have tasted quite ordinary but I was won over by their stylish presentation at a party where the food was by fashionable London caterers ‘The Admiral Crichton’ in the private garden in a London square. The eggs nestled on straw in a wicker basket, some peeled, some still in their bluish, mottled shells. We’d been warned by our MD that the first cocktail would be very strong to relax our clients and get the party started with a bang. Food seemed sensible and these were immensely moreish. I was a lifelong fan from that moment.
My girls loved snacking on them when they were little – the perfect toddler fare – and their nimble fingers soon picked off the papery peel. As an easy starter to take to a friend’s house (who is wheat-intolerant) this weekend they were ideal. I arranged them on a white linen napkin inside a basket with a shot glass full of celery salt for dipping. Quails eggs can be used in any way you’d use chicken eggs but it’s nice to make the most of their Lilliputian size:
Hard boiled quails eggs
Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over a medium heat. Time for 2 1/2 minutes after they come to the boil and then drain and plunge immediately into lots of cold water.
Fried quails eggs
It’s quite hard to crack a quail egg without breaking the yolk. I peel off the end of the shell then pinch the membrane to break it. You can pour the egg out of the shell quite easily then. Otherwise carefully saw off the end with a serrated knife. Lightly grease a small non-stick frying pan and place over a low to medium heat. Slide the eggs gently onto the pan and cover with a lid (or large plate). Check after a minute (glass lids are great) and once the white is set firm, gently lift out with a fish slice.
Serving ideas: with shoe-string fries; on thin slices of toasted baguette with a sliver of crispy bacon or chorizo; or on rye bread rounds on small slices of smoked salmon.
Poached quails eggs
Gently crack your eggs as above onto a flat plate. Bring a small frying pan of water to a gently shimmer and slide the eggs into the water very carefully. Keep the water at a temperature so it hardly bubbles. Remove the quails eggs when the whites are set. If using later plunge them into a bowl of iced water and reheat in simmering water for 30 seconds.
Serving ideas: mini eggs Benedict or Florentine; on top of tiny fish cakes; with baby asparagus and shaved Parmesan.
So you love quails eggs like I do (KP won’t touch them even though he adores hard-boiled eggs – that’s just weird)? Are you a quails egg virgin? Any other serving suggestions to add to this list?
P.S. All these pics taken on my iphone – do you think that matters? Would love your feedback.