3 Way_Quail Egg_Feature_web.jpg
Copyright Siiri Sampson 2011
For such a tiny little egg, this puppy packs a rich and versatile punch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

When your


A Smokin' Hot Three-Way . . . With Quail Eggs!

3 Way_Quail Egg_Feature_web.jpg
Copyright Siiri Sampson 2011
For such a tiny little egg, this puppy packs a rich and versatile punch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

When your fridge starts to moan and groan from the monotony of the same lame ingredients, it's time for a culinary three-way. Turning a tired stovetop into a weekday workhorse, Voracious columnist Siiri Sampson brings a fresh, seasonal, or obscure ingredient to life with three treatments: decadent, healthy, and quick-fix.

Usually found atop a precisely prepared sushi roll, quail eggs aren't exactly what you'd call ordinary. In fact, outside of restaurant service, it's hard to find them in a grocery store or farmers market. However, any major city with a sizable Asian population has more than its share of dedicated markets. That is where this small yet powerful egg can be purchased in abundance.

For about $1 per carton (10-12 eggs), the options are limited only by the cook's imagination. Quail eggs, although tiny in comparison to those of their fowl cousin, the chicken, provide a delicate yet rich flavor to any dish. This week we explore a light yet substantial summer salad, a silky, hearty appetizer, and a fast brunch redux suitable for any time of day.

3 Way_Quail Egg_Decadent_web.jpg
Copyright Siiri Sampson 2011
With one, tiny heavenly bite, you'll be hooked on this reinvented classic.
Decadent: Once a common potluck dish (think 1950's Tupperware parties), deviled eggs have certainly taken on a life of their own in the past decade as the comeback kid of restaurants across the nation. Most commonly seen today with truffle oil, the indulgence in these time-consuming, bite-sized babies is really about all the fatty goodness. Now there's another take on this dish that grandmothers would be surprised to see--deviled quail eggs. Barely bigger than a quarter in diameter, they're soft-boiled for four minutes and painstakingly peeled. Here's what happens next:

• Combine 6 yolks with 1 tablespoon olive-oil mayonnaise.

• Add 1 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard.

• Add salt and pepper to taste.

• Whip mixture to mousse consistency.

If you haven't given up on the microscopic meal by this point, pipe the yolk mixture back into the whites. Top with pan-fried bits of pork belly and a scatter of capers, and drizzle with Kona garlic macadamia oil (because of course you've got that lying around). Enjoy every rich bite with a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc.

3 Way_Quail Egg_Healthy_web.jpg
Copyright Siiri Sampson 2011
It's hard to believe a dish with so many seasonal favorites can be so healthy, but since a starter size boasts only 140 calories, seeing (and tasting) is believing!
Healthy: If the idea of "healthy food that still tastes good" seems out of reach, the mighty quail egg comes to the rescue, with just 15 calories and a gram of protein apiece. By poaching them in simmering water, they're a fast, simple substitute for any meat in an entree salad. Here's the skinny:

• Combine 1-2 cups lettuce with fresh sliced tomato and avocado.

• Poach quail eggs in simmering water with 1 tablespoon white wine (or rice) vinegar.

• Sautee thinly sliced shallots with 1 teaspoon of olive oil on high heat till crispy and brown.

• Toss with an easy dressing made from 1 part dijon, 2 parts lemon juice, and 3 parts olive oil.

• Plate salad and top with eggs, shallots, and shaved parmesan.

The richness of the yolk compliments the crunch of the frizzled shallots perfectly, while the lemon juice and zest keep the salad light enough for the hottest summer night. And for you who quiver at the thought of a runny yolk? Fear not: Simply whisk the egg lightly before dropping it into the simmering water. All the great flavor remains, without any undesirable runny stuff.

3 Way_Quail Egg_Quick Fix_web.jpg
Copyright Siiri Sampson 2011
This time standing in for the classic sit-down dinner, a quick quail-egg and spicy chicken sausage breakfast combo delivers.

Quick Fix: No one is immune to the temptations of the drive-thru these days. When it's 8:30 on a Tuesday night and nary a cutting board has hit the counter, where do you start? Rather than stuff your piehole with dog-food-grade McBeef, go back to breakfast. This rendition uses a Chinese-style spicy pork and chicken sausage that has a hint of sweetness and fries up to a golden crunch. Here are the goods:

• Get a nonstick frying pan on medium high.

• When hot, drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil.

• Add thinly sliced potatoes and sausage, cover, and reduce heat to medium for 5-10 minutes, till cooked through.

• Push to one side and fry quail eggs.

• Plate up and shred cheddar cheese over top to melt.

Since your frying pan takes less time to heat up than your minivan's engine, whip this up like a short-order cook and serve with cheddar and ketchup. In less than 15 minutes you've filled the void, saved some cash, and maybe even used up some leftovers from Sunday's brunch.

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