These are good eggs.
Not just because they’re small- and small things are indisputably cute (ref; babies, puppies, kittens, nieces, Nemo).
Not because they’re a low carb pre dinner nibble that isn’t made from pigs or peanuts.
And not because they’re a blank canvas that allows you to go crazy with flavoured salts (I haven’t got this excited about coloured salts since 1996 when my then boyfriend gave me lavender bath salts for Christmas ).
They’re just good eggs.
I’m always a little torn about what to put out for nibbles. I like to have things on the table as soon as people arrive. That and being able to get a drink into someone’s hand within a minute of arriving are the harbingers of a good party. If it takes another hour for dinner to get on the table, so be it. At least people have something to play with in the mean time.
I went through a wild phase of the artichokes with coffee aioli. Before that I went a little nuts with the pea, mint and feta dip. Then there were the devils on horseback. And now, I’m all about the quail’s eggs.
Particularly, if they’re still a little sodden on the inside. Yes, granted a runny yolk makes them a little trickier to peel, but it also makes them three times more exciting to eat. Just be sure to warn your friends who are wearing white tops. Not everybody likes an ejaculating egg.
As for the palaver of peeling them, adding a little bit of bicarb soda to the water that the eggs are boiled in is one little trick that helps the shells shirk away from the skins.
Unlike a chicken egg which requires a good five minutes (and ten seconds if you follow Momofuku’s thought process) to get a perfectly oozy centre and set white, these smaller quail’s eggs only need 90 seconds in boiling water. Plunge them into cold water and let them stay there until they cool. Them crack the top and bottom against the side of the sink and use a very small stream of running water to help encourage the shell away from the white.
Dry them off gently with paper towel and then serve with any manner of flavoured salts to dip them in. Celery salt is classic, but my current festive favourites include a red and green duo of smoked paprika salt and dried oregano.
That combination takes me straight to Spain, but if I was feeling more adventurous I would go Egyptian with dukkah,, to China with five spice and salt, or Japan with Togarashi. Essentially, I open my spice cupboard and let the eggs and what’s there take me somewhere else. It’s a holiday on a plate and the meal’s only just begun.
I told you these were good eggs.
Soft quail eggs with flavoured salts
Serves 6 as a starter
1 sauce pan. 1 bowl with cold water. 1 platter to serve
2 dozen quail eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons of maldon salt
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of bi carb soda
Here’s how we roll
1) Add the bicarb soda to the boiling water.
2) Boil the eggs for 90 seconds.
3) Transfer the eggs to a bowl filled with iced water.
4) Allow the eggs to cool, then crack the tops and bottoms against the edge of the sink
5) Very carefully, under a small trickle of water peel the shells off. Try and get the water in and underneath the membrane of the shell.
6) Mix the paprika with half of the salt and place in a pile on the board. Do the same with the oregano.
7) Serve the eggs with the flavoured salts. Warn your friends that they’re still runny in the centre. Or don’t- and see what happens next.