Quail with luohan flavor 羅漢香鵪鶉

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Every year, my husband and I start out the New Year organizing all our photos we took from the year that just passed, making backup copies of our important computer files, and planning a birthday celebration for our Mum.  My mother-in-law’s birthday is in January, and every year it is my pleasure to ask her what special cuisine I could prepare for her during our intimate house dinner held in her honor.  This time, mum mentioned that she wanted to try homemade squab.  Although squab is served at almost all Chinese restaurants, we don’t normally order it unless we are throwing a wedding party or some sort of large celebratory banquet with many people.

I was delighted to try my hand at preparing a tasty squab dish and asked my husband to pick up six squabs from my favorite specialty meats shop.  Somehow there was a misunderstanding, and he came home with a six-pack of quail.  I admit that it is easy to make this mistake since squab and quail do resemble each other!  In the culinary world, squab refers to a young pigeon.  Squab is dark meat, and is considered a delicacy with a more tender, moist, and rich taste than chicken.  Its meat is also leaner compared to chicken.  Quail is also a bird like the squab, but is smaller than squab.  There are many different species of quail, but they all belong to the same order as the turkey, chicken, and pheasant.  Quail is also dark meat and has a similar rich taste and lean meat quality.

I decided to write a recipe for quail, incorporating Chinese flavors and a healthier cooking technique (restaurants usually deep fry these birds).  The recipe turned out to be tasteful, and an appropriate one to share for the upcoming Chinese New Year’s celebrations!  Needless to say, my mother-in-law enjoyed the quail just the same, and I promised her I would prepare squab next time.

Quail with luohan flavor

Grocery list

6 quails, frozen or fresh
Salt to taste

Stewing sauce

3 star aniseed
3 pieces cinnamon bark
3 slices ginger
1 luohan guo (羅漢果)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tsp salt
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 cup Chinese brine/gravy, available at Asian supermarkets in marinade section


1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 slices ginger
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine



鵪鶉, 6 只


八角 3 粒
桂皮 3 片
姜 3 片
羅漢果 1 個
醬油 1/4 杯
鹽 3 茶匙
蚝油 2 湯匙
滷汁 1 杯


油 1 湯匙
姜 3 片
紹興酒 1/4 杯

Quail with luohan flavor  Quail with luohan flavor

Turn on the oven’s broiler to high setting.  Remove the lungs from the quail and wash thoroughly.  Put in an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet or a baking pan and season with salt.  Broil quail on each side for 5 minutes or until skin just begins to turn golden and slightly crispy.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Make the stewing sauce:  In a wok or a large pot, combine all the ingredients.  Pour in 3 cups of water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce to heat to medium, cover, and simmer for about an hour or until it becomes very aromatic.

Quail with luohan flavor

Season the quail:  In a large non-stick skillet, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add the 3 slices ginger and stir fry until fragrant.  Add the quail and stir fry thoroughly for about 5 to 10 minutes, turning the quail occasionally.  Splash in the Shaoxing wine and let it reduce to about half the original volume.  Using a spider cooking utensil, transfer the quail to the wok with the stewing sauce and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes turning once halfway through.

Quail with luohan flavor  Quail with luohan flavor

Remove and arrange nicely on a serving plate.

Chef’s touch:  In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 1/8 cup soy sauce, and 1/2 tsp sugar.  Brush over the quail with a pastry or silicone brush.  Broil in the oven for about 5 minutes or until skin is glazed.

Quail with luohan flavor  Quail with luohan flavor

鵪鶉去肺洗淨, 飛水瀝干.

烤盤中先鋪上1張鋁箔紙, 把鵪鶉把擺在上面, 加鹽.  烤箱預熱至350oF.  放入烤箱烤5分鐘每一方直到金黃色和香脆.

 鹵水料置炒鍋中, 注入清水 3 杯, 以中慢火煮約1小時至出味.

 在煮鍋中堯油1湯匙, 爆香姜片, 加入鵪鶉爆透 (5至10分鐘), 酒紹酒.

 將鵪鶉回炒鍋與鹵水料, 中火再煨10分鐘.


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