My cousin Laurent and I hosted a dinner at his place for my very big French-Vietnamese family. There were more than 40 of us, and one of our favourite dishes of the night was this quail recipe: marinated, pan-fried then flambéed with Cognac. Now be sure to stand back when you add the Cognac, as you may lose your eyebrows!
- 6 quails, rib cages removed and reserved (see Note)
- 1 tsp oyster sauce
- 60 ml (¼ cup) fish sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 red Asian shallot, chopped
- 85 g sultanas (golden raisins)
- 1 tsp tamarind pulp
- 1 bouquet garni (2 thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves)
- 500 ml (2 cups) white wine
- 125 ml (½ cup) chicken stock
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp butter
- 125 ml (½ cup) Cognac
- 8 grapes, peeled and halved
- Vietnamese baguettes, to serve
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 20 minutes
Place quails in a large mixing bowl. Combine oyster sauce and 2 tbsp fish sauce and add to quail. Toss to coat quails in the marinade, then cover and set aside at room temperature to marinate for 20 minutes.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the vegetables oil and cook the reserved quail bones for 2 minutes. Add the carrot, shallot, sultanas, tamarind, bouquet garni, white wine and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, skimming surface to remove impurities. Season with remaining fish sauce and the sugar. Strain, discarding solids, then return the liquid to the pan over heat. Cook until sauce is reduced to one-third.
Heat a large frying pan over medium. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter begins to foam, add the quails, in batches, and cook for 3 minutes each side or until browned.
(The next step will ignite some flames, so watch your hair!)
Carefully pour the Cognac into the pan. Once the flames die down, add the grapes and reduced sauce and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Transfer the quails to a serving platter and drizzle with the sauce. Serve with baguettes.
• Ask your butcher to remove the ribcage from the quails, reserving the bones.