What is it?
These tiny speckled eggs have the familiar flavor of chicken eggs, but they’re a little creamier due to their higher proportion of yolk to white.
Quail (birds in the Coturnix genus, closely related to the partridge) and their eggs have been farmed and eaten around the world for millennia. Quail have a lot of pluses as a food source, particularly in places without much farmland. They require little grazing area and mature quickly, and females lay around 220 eggs per year. They’ve long been a staple in much of Asia, but they’ve been slow to catch on in the United States, where chickens are preferred for their larger size and eggs. Still, as Americans have become more adventurous home cooks, the country’s four major quail farms have started retailing eggs (instead of selling only to restaurants), and smaller farms have popped up to meet the burgeoning demand for quail eggs.
How to choose:
Quail eggs are generally sold in clear plastic egg containers. Most Asian markets sell them, often for very reasonable prices, and they are also available in well-stocked grocery stores or by mail order.
How to prep:
Quail eggs can be hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled, fried, or poached. They’re great for bite-size versions of egg dishes such as deviled eggs, Scotch eggs, or egg-in-a-hole. One of their best-known uses is raw on top of steak tartare, and Spanish tapas are sometimes topped with fried quail eggs, because the eggs don’t overwhelm the diminutive tapas. In Asian cuisines, they’re often pickled or hard-boiled and topped with sesame.
How to store:
They can be refrigerated for up to one month.
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