Crispy Fried Butter Quail (Chim Cut Chien Bo)
Deep-fried quails are known in Vietnam as street food. Street vendors would pre-fry the quails and stack them on the small window of their push carts for display. The vendor would fry the quails again to order until golden brown and serve them with a side of pickled or fresh vegetables, and a peppery lemon dipping sauce. They are cheap, quick and delicious.
Here in the States, quails are mainly served in fancy restaurants for special occasions such as weddings or big family-style dinners. They also cost a fortune and the fresh ones are not readily available. I can only get them frozen in small packages of 6 where I live.
The quails are tiny so they have very little meat. Whatever meat is there, however, is really tasty. You can eat them with pickled daikons and carrots, fresh slices of cucumbers, or Vietnamese coriander (Rau Ram). You can also eat them with steamed white rice for a complete meal.
To eat the quail, tear off a hindleg or any piece, dip it in the sauce then enjoy. Chase it with your preferred vegetables. However you eat it, don't eat fried quails with a fork and knife, even when served in a fancy restaurant. Not only is it impractical, but we can't be friends if you do.
Crispy Fried Butter Quail Recipe (Chim Cut Chien Bo)
6 quails (remove innards, butterfly then halve along backside)
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 teaspoons Shaoxing cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove (minced)
1 small shallot (minced)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
Dipping Sauce / Side Vegetables
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Crushed chili pepper for some kick (optional)
Vietnamese coriander (Rau Ram)
Add the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and mix until combined. Marinate the quails for at least one hour or overnight in fridge for best results.
Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees F and fry the quail for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer quails to a plate lined with paper towels to remove excess oil.
Brush on melted butter and serve with dipping sauce and Vietnamese coriander.