As you may know by now, I have a special fondness for anything pickled, and it seems I may also have a special fondness for quail eggs. They are perfectly sized morsels, and also very pretty. In this recipe I have garnished them simply with fennel salt (fennel seeds also being one of my weaknesses) and salsa verde. Salsa verde literally translates to "green sauce". This is quite a broad term and gives you great scope to mix any combination of herbs depending on what tickles your fancy.
Pickled quail eggs
- 24 quail eggs
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 300 ml cider vinegar
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 1 tbsp table salt
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp river salt
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1 cup mint leaves
- ½ cup chives (about 1 bunch)
- 1 lemon, zested
- 125 ml olive oil (not a really strong one)
- drizzle of olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- sliced fresh bread
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.
Pickling time 2 days
Pickled quail eggs
To prepare the quail eggs, place them in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover completely and generously. Bring them to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and place in a bowl of iced water for about 5 minutes.
Peel the eggs and place in a container with the bay leaf and thyme.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, 200 ml water, sugar, salt, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns together in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow the liquor to cool for about 5 minutes.
Pour the cooled vinegar mix over the eggs. Cover the container and place in the fridge for at least 2 days. They will keep for about a week.
Preheat oven to 100°C.
Blanch the parsley in a saucepan of boiling salted water for 5 seconds before removing and placing in a bowl of iced water. Strain, squeeze dry and finely chop.
In a small frying pan, gently toast the fennel seeds and salt for about 5 minutes or until you can smell the lovely fennel aroma.
In a mortar and pestle, roughly pound the fennel, salt and parsley.
Place a sheet of baking paper on a baking tray and spread the mixture over it. Place in the oven to dry out for about 30 minutes.
Once it’s fully dry, pound it in a mortar and pestle until fine. This salt can be kept for up to a week and is very tasty sprinkled over any number of things.
Finely chop the garlic and capers and place them in a mixing bowl.
Roughly chop the parsley and mint, finely slice the chives and add to the bowl with the lemon zest.
Mix in the olive oil with a spoon and season.
Pull out the quail eggs from the pickle liquor, pat dry and allow enough time before serving for the eggs to come to room temperature. Cut them in half and arrange them on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with a little salt and a few turns of black pepper.
Serve them with a mound of fennel salt and salsa verde on the side, and sliced fresh bread.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Jerrie-Joy Redman-Lloyd. Wooden board from West Elm. Dish with salsa verde from The fortynine Studio. Salsa verde ingredients: bowl from Mud Australia.