At the restaurant, Shinichi serves this with pickled golden beetroot and extra shiitake mushrooms. You can ask your butcher to butterfly and bone the quails for you.
- 60 g piece fresh burdock root (gobo) (see Note) or 60 g (¾ cup) frozen julienned burdock
- 6 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, finely chopped
- 10 thin spring onions, green part only, finely chopped
- 6 quails, butterflied, boned except for wings and legs (see Note)
- 1½ tbsp Japanese sesame oil
- vegetable oil, to deep-fry
- potato flour (see Note), to dust
- finely shredded carrot salad and baby herbs, to serve
Orange soy glaze
- 160 ml (⅔ cup) Japanese soy sauce
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) mirin
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) cooking sake (see Note)
- 75 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
- 1 orange, rind thickly sliced
Ginger soy marinade
- 160 ml (⅔ cup) Japanese soy sauce
- 160 ml (⅔ cup) mirin
- 4 cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 4 hours
Drink match Kozaemon Yamahai Junmai Banshu Yamadanishiki sake. This earthy, umami-laden sake works well with the sweet-salty, gamey flavours of this dish.
To make orange soy glaze, place ingredients in a saucepan over high heat and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes or until reduced by half. Strain, discarding peel, and refrigerate until needed. Makes 200 ml.
To make ginger soy marinade, combine ingredients in a jug. Set aside. Makes 320 ml.
Scrub burdock root under running water, then cut into 6 batons, about 8 cm long and 8 mm thick. Blanch in a pan of boiling water. Drain, plunge into iced water and drain again. Place in a bowl with half the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Place mushrooms and onions in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Stand for 10 minutes, then squeeze to remove any excess liquid.
Meanwhile, working with one quail at a time, place bird, skin-side down, on a work surface. Using a small paring knife, make a slit along the skin of each leg and carefully remove legs, ensuring you don’t rip or detach the skin from the quail bodies. Place legs in a large bowl and pour over remaining ginger soy marinade. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
Trim excess fat from breasts and discard. Remove tenderloins and finely chop. Using wet hands, combine tenderloins with shiitake mixture to form a paste.
Butterfly open each quail breast lengthways, starting at the wing end of the bird. Place a burdock baton across the centre of each breast, cover with one-sixth of the shiitake mixture, then carefully roll up quail, from the wing end, leaving wings at either end of the roll. Wrap quail roll tightly with plastic wrap to secure, ensuring wings are left unwrapped. Knot ends of plastic wrap to seal.
Place quail rolls in a large steamer set over a saucepan of simmering water and cook for 4 minutes or until just firm. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove and discard plastic wrap.
Heat 2 tsp sesame oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 quail rolls and cook, turning, for 3 minutes or until cooked through and golden. Drain on paper towel, then cover to keep warm. Repeat twice with remaining sesame oil and quail rolls.
Fill a deep-fryer or large pan one-third full with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in 2 batches, dust marinated quail legs with potato flour, shake off excess, then gently drop into oil. Cook, turning halfway, for 2 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Cut each quail roll into 6 pieces and place on a serving plate with deep-fried quail legs. Drizzle over orange soy glaze and serve with carrot salad and baby herbs.
• Fresh burdock root is hard to find in Australia. Japanese food shops stock packets of combined julienned burdock root and dried carrot (kinpira gobo) in the freezer, which can be substituted. Reconstitute according to packet directions, then marinate as per step 3; no blanching is required.
• Butterflying quail. Using poultry shears, cut off neck, then cut down either side of backbone to remove. Turn bird over and pull out wishbone. Clip wing joints either side under ribcage, then start massaging the flesh off the carcass until you can tear the breast cage clean away from flesh. Use your fingers to pull off ends of thigh bones and any other stray bones.
• Potato flour is available from Asian and health food shops.
• Cooking sake is from Japaense food shops.
Photography John Reyment