Eight-Treasure Quail with Chinese Sausage and Lotus Seed
This dish is based on the Chinese tradition of sweet and sour foods, but those flavors are augmented with the five-spice accent of Chinese sausage and the flavors of the portobello mushroom and liqueur. The Chinese sausages, dried shrimp, Chinese sweet rice, and lotus seed may be found at Asian markets. The stuffing may be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Bring to room temperature before stuffing the quail. If making the stuffing in advance, the asparagus should be steamed separately while the quail are broiling.
- Soybean Oil - 1/4 cup
- Garlic Cloves - 3, crushed
- Fresh Ginger - 2 tablespoons, minced
- Lemongrass stalks - 1, bottom 3 inches only, crushed and sliced
- Soy Sauce - 2 tablespoons
- Brandy - 3 tablespoons
- Quail - 8 boned
- Chinese Sausages - 8 ounces, lean
- Asparagus - 1 pound, trimmed, or Chinese cabbage
- Portobello Mushrooms - 1/2, or 4 stemmed shiitake mushrooms
- Soybean Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Shallots - 4, minced
- Dried Shrimp - 2 tablespoons, minced in a blender or food processor
- Chinese Sweet Rice - 1 cup, soaked 2 hours to overnight in 2 cups cold water
- Kosher Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Water - 2 cups
- Dried Lotus Seed - 1/2 cup, soaked in 1 cup water for 1 hour
- Unsalted Butter - 1 tablespoon
- Fresh Kumquats - 6, thinly sliced and seeded
- Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur - 3 tablespoons
To prepare the quail: Mix the soybean oil, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce, and brandy in a large non-aluminum bowl. Gently turn the quail inside out and marinate at room temperature in the mixture for 30 minutes.
To make the stuffing: Cut two thirds of the sausages into 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices. Cut the remaining sausages into 1/8-inch dice. Cut the asparagus into 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices and set aside (if using cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces). Cut the gills from the bottom of the portobello mushroom and cut the stem and cap into matchstick; if using shiitakes, cut the caps into matchsticks.
Heat the oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the sausage cubes, sliced mushrooms, and dried shrimp. Cook over low heat until the mushroom pieces are tender. Although the mixture may seem a little dry, you should add only as much oil as needed to make a loose stir-fry.
Turn off the heat and add the soaked rice, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and transfer to a shallow dish. Place a large bamboo steamer over a 10-inch skillet filled with 1 inch of boiling water. Lay the sausage slices and the asparagus on top of the stuffing mixture, then place the pan of rice in the bamboo steamer for 10 minutes, until the asparagus is tender. The fat from the sausage will season the stuffing mixture. Remove the sausage slices and asparagus from the stuffing and keep warm.
Turn the quail right-side out and stuff each with 3 tablespoons of the stuffing mixture. Arrange the quail breast-side down, cross the legs to seal, and place on a heatproof dish.
To make the glaze: Heat the sugar with 1 cup of the water in a small saucepan. Add the drained soaked lotus seeds and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the seeds are slightly translucent and tender; strain (discard the sugar water). When the lotus seeds are cool enough to handle, break them in half with your fingers and discard the black core, if one is present. Return the lotus seeds to the saucepan. Add the butter, sliced kumquats, and Grand Marnier or other liqueur. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and turn off heat. Set aside and keep warm.
To finish: Preheat the broiler and broil the quail about 6 inches from the heat for 4 minutes; turn the quail gently, using tongs, and broil for an additional 3 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
To serve Arrange the sausage slices and asparagus in a radial pattern on each plate and top with 1 quail. Spoon lotus seed sauce over and around the quail