Barbecued five-spice quail

Barbecued five-spice quail

Leanne Kitchen

The slight gaminess of quail is the perfect counterpoint for a sweet, Vietnamese-style marinade, fragrant with five-spice powder. Serve the quail as an appetiser, or with a selection of other dishes and plenty of steamed rice, as part of a large spread. The quantity of marinade used here could also work for four, butterflied spatchcocks if you prefer, although the cooking time will need to be increased to about 20 minutes.


Quantity Ingredient
6 quail
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for cooking
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons shaved palm sugar
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1 1/2 star anise, chopped finely
handful mint leaves
handful coriander leaves
handful perilla leaves, torn
80g roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Cucumber salad

Quantity Ingredient
45g palm sugar, shaved
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
4 lebanese cucumbers, peeled and diced
3 large red asian shallots, thinly sliced
1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped


  1. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut through the quail on either side of the backbone, discarding the backbones. Put the quail, skin side up, on a work surface and gently flatten them using the heel of your hand to break the breast bone.
  2. Combine the oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic cloves, palm sugar and spices in a food processor and process until a paste forms. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.
  3. Combine the paste with the quail in a large bowl, turning the quail to coat well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Drain the quail, reserving the marinade. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. To make the cucumber salad, combine the sugar, lime juice, rice vinegar and fish sauce in a bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cucumber, shallots and chilli, toss to coat well, cover, then stand for 20 minutes.
  5. Heat a barbecue or chargrill pan to medium–high. Cook the quail, in batches if necessary, skin side down, turning once and brushing occasionally with the reserved marinade, for 10 minutes, or until just cooked through – the quail should still be pink in the middle. Transfer the quail to a warmed plate and rest for 5 minutes. Gently scatter over the herbs and the peanuts.
  6. Serve the quail with the cucumber salad on the side.
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