Vietnamese-Style Roasted Quail

This kind of dish is called "mon nhau," Vietnamese drinking food or pub grub. They're small bites and appetizers shared around the table with beer, casual conversation and sometimes horrible singing. My parents did not frequent these Vietnamese karaoke pubs often, but their friends did and sometimes we'd get invited. Having to sit through a whole night of drunken karaoke, the only consolation my brother Ngoc and I had was the bar food. Some dishes were great, while others were odd-- like duck blood salad, fried intestines and pickled pork sausage. But one of our favorite dishes were the roasted or fried quail, which we happily gnawed and picked at while trying to ignore the horrible singing. When the food was gone, both he and I were ready to leave. 

This recipe can also be grilled or fried. We chose to roast the quails because it's healthier. The lemon, pepper and salt dipping sauce is a standard in Vietnamese pub food. It's also great with seafood like crab, crawfish and calamari. 

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Cooking Time: about 10 minutes
- 4 whole quails
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of Ponzu sauce
- 4 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of five-spice powder
- 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons of Shaoxing rice cooking wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 green onion, white and light green parts chopped
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon of oil
Dipping Sauce
- 1 tablespoons of lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper

1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, Ponzu, sugar, five-spice, ginger, rice wine and green onion. 

Rinse quails under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Salt well inside and out and place in a zip lock bag. Pour the marinade into the bag, massage the bag and refrigerate for 2 hours. 
2. Take birds out of the refrigerator to come to room temperate before cooking. 

Turn broiler on to high. Oil the grates on a roast pan with rack and place it in the oven to heat up.

Remove quails from the marinade and paint the birds with butter or olive oil. 
3. Then roast the quails for 5 minutes breast-side down. Flip quails breast-side up and roast for another 2-3 minutes, or until skin turns golden. Finally, turn them over on their wings and roast for 1 minute on each side. Do not leave the oven, because it does not take long for the broiler to burn food. 

Combine dipping sauce ingredients and serve on the side. This recipe is also perfect for grilling and frying.