Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Quail and Wine

You don't often see Quail in the UK but its traditional strongholds are parts of Wiltshire and Dorset, and in good years the Welsh Marches, East Anglia, low-lying parts of northern England and parts of southern Scotland. However Quail are still heavily hunted as game on passage through the Mediterranean area. The Common Quail was previously much favoured in French cooking, but Quail for the table are now more likely to be domesticated Japanese Quail. The Common Quail is also part of Maltese cuisine and Portuguese cuisine, as well as in Indian cuisine such as a bhuna.

Quail eggs are considered a delicacy. They are sometimes used raw in sushi and often found in Japanese Bento lunches. In Colombia, Quail eggs are less exotic than in many other countries, and a single hard-boiled Quail egg is a common topping on hot dogs and hamburgers, often fixed into place with a toothpick. In the Philippines, kwek-kwek is a popular street food delicacy, which consists of soft-boiled Quail eggs dipped in orange-coloured batter before being skewered and deep-fried.

Quail have been bred domestically for over 4,000 years and in ancient times the Egyptians bred them for food and established large farms for breeding them. The first written records of domesticated quail in Japan date from the 12th century. These birds were initially developed for song. It is claimed that a Japanese Emperor obtained relief from tuberculosis after eating Quail meat, and this led to selection of domestic Quail for meat and egg production in Japan in the latter part of the 19th century. In the Far East records of Quail go back as far as 770BC - Exodus relates how the migrating Israelites relied on migrating Quail for food.

Smoked Trout Kedgeree with Quail's Eggs

Smoked trout takes the place of the more traditional smoked haddock in this dish from the Raj, which was originally served for breakfast.
300 g long-grain white rice
1 litre vegetable stock
8 quail's eggs
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 fresh red chilli, seeded and sliced
1 tbsp korma curry paste
3 tbsp Greek style yoghurt
280 g smoked trout fillets, skinned and flaked into large pieces
4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
55 g toasted flaked almonds
pinch paprika

Put the rice in a pan, add the stock or water and bring to the boil. Stir, then cover and simmer very gently for 10–15 minutes or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. While the rice is cooking, put the quail's eggs in a small pan of water and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 30 seconds, then drain off the water. Cover with fresh cold water, and leave until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggs and cut each one in half.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and chilli, and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until the onion is soft and has started to turn golden. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Tip the rice into the frying pan. Add the yoghurt and toss together until well blended. Mix in the smoked trout, coriander and almonds. Place the quail's eggs on top and heat through briefly, sprinkle on the paprika, then serve.

Should your budget allow a fine white wine such as Pavillon Blanc du Margaux would be superb with this dish. Pavillon Blanc is the rare Third Wine of Château Margaux and is part of an age old tradition at the château. It was sold in the 19th century as 'vin blanc de sauvignon'. The 30 acre vineyard is made up exclusively of Sauvignon white grapes. It is located on a very old plot belonging to the estate and the Sauvignon grapes reach a level of ripeness which rids them of their vegetal characters and brings out floral and fruity notes.

Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux is fresh and aromatic with lots of grassy, green pepper notes characteristic of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. It's a yellow gold wine which is elegant and luscious with notes of melon, lemon, honey and hay with a hint of minerals.

Not many can afford Chateau Margaux's superb white but as an alternative and much more within the price range of most would be Fleur de Luze (£5.62). Fleur de Luze is a a lovely, lively, fresh and fruity white wine from Maison A. de Luze et Fils, who have been pioneers in the wine trade since 1820. It's a clear, crystalline pale gold colour with a very clean citrus, lychee, and mango bouquet. It has a long, fruity after taste which follows through with a slight hint of ripe grapefruit and a refreshingly slight touch of fizz.

1 comment:

Hampers said...

Being a wine lover, I enjoyed going through your blog. Keep it up the good work. Cheers :)