I'll admit that I am the kind of urban food wanker that pounces on any weird or wonderful ingredient that pops up at the local fruit shop just to try it. Of course I had eaten quail eggs in restaurants before, but never had I seen them lurking next to the celery at the grocery shop, daring me to cook them.
As I pushed my trolley around the shopping centre, ideas on what to cook with these tiny delights ran through my head. Miniature sunny side up eggs? Of course I'd need tiny bacon then. An omelet? I figured a whole pack would barely make enough for one person. Then it dawned on me - it's easter, and I needed to make a salad for the obligatory family get together on Easter Sunday. What better than a salad adorned with tiny little eggies?
When I got my precious cargo home, I scrutinised the package further. The lady on the front with her floppy flowered hat looked so serene and happy. Almost superior. As I read the packet further, I realised why. She had eaten so many quail eggs that she was now immune from every disease known to mankind.
According to the website http://www.quailkingdom.com.au/, these cute little eggles do everything from reducing the negative effects of radiation therapy, to increasing virility in men, to making kiddies smarter as well as reducing your wrinkles and gray hairs. It must be true - the lady on the packet has a lovey mane of brown hair! I did note that she does have a few wrinkles though.
I obviously felt pretty good about my $4 spend on quail eggs as not only would I be treating my husband's extended family to a delicacy, but I would be reducing my wrinkles and gray hairs. Double yay!
I opened the packet and examined my eggs.
I decided to hard boil the eggs, halve them and use them to decorate a simple rocket salad , showing off their teensy yellow yolks.
I boiled some water and carefully transferred my eggs into the water. I was worried I might overcook the eggs, or that they might crack if they pitched around too wildly in the water and so I really just simmered the eggs for 3 minutes.
Halfway through my cooking process, I read the egg packet a bit more carefully and saw that on the inside the kindly hat wearing lady had recommended that you undertake the following process:
- soak the eggs in warm water for a few minutes
- place the eggs in a pot and cover with vinegar or half vinegar, half water to make the shells soft and easy to peel
- once the liquid starts boiling, time for one to three minutes
- allow the eggs to cool, and once cool, peel them and refrigerate until you need to use them
Just as three minutes was up, I fished the eggs out with a strainer and plunged them into a bowl of water as I was short on time. After a little while I began peeling my 12 eggs.
It was BUGGER of a job! The shells were so delicate and thin that they just crumbled all over my hands as I tried to pick them off the egg, leaving it intact. I took to halving them first and then attempting to peel off the shell which worked a little better. The knack was picking the membrane with your finger and peeling it away.
It was a tedious process that took about 20 minutes and I can tell you I will be taking the hat lady's advice next time and using all vinegar before attempting this again. I was also little surprised that my quail eggs were a little on the soft boiled side rather than hard boiled although ultimately I think this improved the result.
To make my salad, I fried up some chopped shortcut bacon, removed it to a paper towel to drain, and then deglazed the pan with cider vinegar and some garlic oil. Then I returned the bacon to the pan and allowed the mixture to cool before dressing my rocket leaves with it. The crowning glory was my 24 quail halves carefully placed over the top of the salad like so:
I was a really great salad with the perfect level of Easter kitsch. The soft boiled quail eggs were delicious. They are similar to hens eggs, but have a more delicate creamy flavour. And they are just so damn cute! Although I will say I haven't noticed a reduction in wrinkles yet. I suspect frowning less and an injection of botox would have a better effct.
Next time I see them at the fruit shop I will be picking up another carton of these speckled treasures. I may take hat lady's advice and try them poached, cajun style, or try a quail egg pie.