with Chinese Accents
with Chinese Accents
The Day Before
In a medium-sized pot, combine star anise, soy sauce, garlic, sugar, salt and water. Bring the lot to the boil, remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate the liquid so that it cools to 5°C or below.
Once the brine is cool, immerse the quails in the liquid and leave for 24 hours.
The Day Of
Preparing the Vegetables
Carrots need to be soaked and peeled.
Leeks need to be trimmed of any green, so you are left with only the white part. Soak and clean until there is no trace of soil, which can lodge itself inside the leek.
When preparing the cabbage, remove any blemished external leaves. Cut around the base to remove part of the centre stem and carefully remove the leaves, ensuring they are intact for presentation. Cut a circle from each leaf with an 8cm-diametre cutter, avoiding the stem as much as possible.
Bok choy should be soaked to remove any soil lodged between the leaves. Cut the base of the vegetable away and select 3 leaves per portion.
Oyster mushrooms should be trimmed and separated. Remove any remaining woody stems and set aside.
Steam the carrots, leeks, cabbage and bok choy in salted water until just al dente. Refresh in iced water to keep their bite and also to preserve their colour. Remove quickly from the iced water and drain.
Cooking the Quail
Remove the quails from the brine and leave to drain. Set up a pot of boiling water so that a steamer basket can fit snugly on top. Place the quails evenly within the steamer basket, making sure they do not touch. Steam the birds for 25 minutes, then remove the basket with the lid on, keeping the birds covered. Place a tea towel over the lot and rest for 10 minutes.
In a large pot, bring chicken stock to the boil. Add all the vegetables at once, including the mushrooms. This will impart a more complex flavour to the stock and bring the dish together, giving it the flavour needed.
Before the vegetables and chicken stock come to the boil again, remove the legs and breast from the bird. The breast should have a slightly pink hue to it. Don’t be afraid, it’s not chicken! The breasts will be tender and moist, which on such a small bird is vitally important, because if they were cooked through they would be very dry and not so pleasant to eat.
Place the vegetables on the side of a large bowl and rest the parts of the quail against them. Ladle the stock in and garnish with coriander or chervil, whichever pleases you more.