Though I've been cooking for 50 years now, it's only in the last 12 months that I have become truly comfortable with deep-frying. Before then I had done it several times (but not a lot) and the results were pretty good, but I never felt truly comfortable and happy working with all that bubbling hot oil. It was just a bit scary, and to my mind cooking shouldn't be scary.
All that changed when I started deep-frying in a wok, and that's because I started cooking Luke Nguyen's Spicy Deep-Fried Quail the way he suggests, in a wok. Much easier.
|Deep-fried spicy quail, cooked in a wok.|
And so while my garden is almost asleep in this, the coldest winter we've had in Sydney for several years, I'm busy in the kitchen keeping our hard-working artist, Pammy, well-fed while she produces 31 paintings in 31 days for an upcoming group exhibition called – you guessed it – '31 Days'.
For overseas readers, if you are thinking "who is Luke Nguyen?" he is a Sydney restaurateur and TV presenter whose travel and food shows are well worth seeing, especially those celebrating the food of Vietnam and South-East Asia. What follows is his recipe, in words and photos, as cooked by me.
Here's the marinade recipe.
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 star anise, crushed (I do it in a mortar & pestle)
1 1/2 teaspoons Shaoxing (Chinese) cooking wine
125 ml water
The Shaoxing cooking wine is readily available in any Asian food store. It's cheap, too. A 750ml bottle is just $1.30 here in Marrickville.
Next, get that oil in the wok up to the right temperature before adding the quail!
|For this recipe I use 1.5 litres of Rice Bran|
Oil. I prefer this oil as it is one of the few oils
available which is free of unhealthy Trans fats.
|I won't bang on too much about Trans fats here,|
but they are actually banned in some European
countries, but here in Australia it is quite hard to
find oils which are completely free of them. Have
a look at the labels on all the common cooking
oils next time you're at the supermarket, and
you might be surprised how many have Trans
fats listed. Rice Bran oil is free of them.
What's so bad about Trans fats? Here's a link.
|This is where I conquered my fear of deep-frying. It looks very|
spectacular but is quite stable. Enjoyable in fact. Let the quails
deep-fry for 5 minutes exactly.
|As soon as you add the quails you'll notice that the temperature|
of the oil drops from 180 down to about 160. Don't be tempted
to turn up the gas flame (or the heat) to compensate. It's okay!
|At the end of 5 minutes, scoop out the quails onto paper towels,|
then wait a minute or so and the oil will be back to 180°C,
ready for the second batch of quails to be added to the oil.
|The quails come out looking lovely. Once the second batch is|
cooked, cut each quail into four pieces (two drumsticks plus
the body of the bird cut in two down the breastbone. A Chinese
cleaver does it so easy, but any big knife will do the trick.