STREET-FOOD STAPLES in Vietnam, these butterflied quail are marinated in a slurry of oyster sauce, fish sauce, spices, garlic, and honey before being pan-fried and then—just to gild the lily—drenched with lime and black-pepper-spiked butter. Little birds, massive flavors. You can opt to grill the birds instead (also, partridges or chukars work just as well here). Serve with steamed rice and a quick salad of tomato, mint, cilantro, and basil.
8 whole quail, gutted, plucked, and backbones removed
2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tsp. five-spice powder
2 tsp. honey
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp. crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
1 lime, juiced
Oil for frying
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
When you’re ready to dig in, top each plate with a pair of quail alongside some rice and salad. Christopher Testani for Field & Stream; food and prop styling by Roscoe Betsill
1. Using kitchen shears, cut the backbone out of each quail so that the birds lay flat. Discard the backbones or save for stock.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, wine, five-spice powder, honey, shallots, garlic, and red pepper. Add the quail and turn the birds, gently, until they’re evenly coated. Transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours, but ideally overnight.
3. Combine the melted butter with the lime juice. Using a fork, whisk in a heaping teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Transfer the quail to a paper towel, and use another paper towel to pat the birds dry. Discard the marinade. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pan over medium-high heat, bring about an inch of oil to 350 degrees.
5. Fry the quail, in batches of two or three, for about 6 minutes, flipping them often. Use an instant meat thermometer to check the breast meat; it should read between 150 and 155 degrees when done.
6. Transfer the cooked quail to a sheet pan and keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest.
7. To serve, brush the quail with the lime-and-pepper butter and sprinkle on some flaky salt. Serves 4
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