The cuisine of Vietnam has achieved justified fame worldwide for its harmonious blending of fresh local herbs, vegetables and spices used in a variety of creative ways that include influences from neighboring China. Vietnamese food is in fact considered to be one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.
Known for its balance of five elements, many Vietnamese dishes are matched to the five fundamental taste senses (ngũ vị): spicy (metal), sour (wood), bitter (fire), salty (water) and sweet (Earth). Dishes in Vietnam also appeal to gastronomes via the five senses (năm giác quan): food arrangement attracts eyes, sounds come from crisp ingredients, five spices are detected on the tongue, aromatic ingredients coming mainly from herbs stimulate the nose, and some meals, especially finger food, can be perceived by touching.
Quail is an extremely popular dish in Vietnam, and I am especially fond of the deep-fried version of this tiny yet flavorful bird. I first tried this dish at the famous Vung Tao restaurant in San Jose, where it was served with a simple yet intensely flavorful sauce made from salt, pepper and lime juice. I realize that Quail aren’t the easiest birds to find, so you can also make this dish with rock cornish game hens. There isn’t a huge amount of meat on quail, so assume a minimum of 2 quail per diner.
My version of this recipe includes a few nods to China in its additional use of Star Anise and hoisin to achieve even deeper flavor. I also added a touch a of brandy to replicate the Vietnamese rice whiskey Bau Da, which adds a nice little kick to the marinade. It’s use is optional.
Citizens, this is actually a rather easy dish to make and I hope you will give it a try! 🙂
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