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Grilled Quail with Sesame Dressing


This is one of the more popular items on the menu at Napa Valley's Mustards Grill.Note: These recipes have been adapted from "Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook" by Cindy Pawlcyn with Brigid Callinan. Copyright 2001 by Cindy Pawlcyn and Brigid Callinan. Reprinted by permission of Ten Speed Press.

  • Servings: 6


  • 6 quail

For Sesame Dressing

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 red Fresno or other hot green or red chilies, seeded and finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons reserved poaching liquid
  • 1/4 cup peanut or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Peanut oil, for grill pan
  • 1/2 cup sugar

For the Papaya-Lime Relish

  • 1 large papaya, peeled, halved, seeded, and diced
  • Pinch of crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely minced
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt

For the Poaching Liquid

  • 1 2/3 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons five-spice powder
  • 2/3 cup Chinese rice-wine vinegar, or sake
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For the Vegetables

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 to 4 heads baby bok choy, cut on the diagonal
  • 1/4 pound chilled Chinese long beans trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces, and blanched


  1. Trim off the tips and the first joint of the wings from each quail, and discard. Trim off the neck if necessary. Set quail aside.

  2. Prepare relish: In a small bowl, gently mix the papaya, crushed red-pepper flakes, jalapeno, lime zest and juice, white pepper, and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.

  3. Prepare the poaching liquid: In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, tamari, five-spice powder, rice-wine vinegar, and sugar. Measure 2 tablespoons of the poaching liquid and set aside for the sesame dressing. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil. Blanch the quail in the poaching liquid, one by one, while you count to 8, then remove and drain well. Repeat this process one more time. Split each quail in half so that each half has a half breast, leg, and thigh. If you are not cooking immediately, refrigerate until you are ready to grill. The poaching liquid may be frozen and used again. Be sure to bring to a full rolling boil before beginning.

  4. Prepare the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, lime juice, chiles, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and the 2 tablespoons poaching liquid until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually whisk in the oils, and continue to whisk until fully emulsified.

  5. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grill pan with peanut oil. Grill the quail bone-side down, turning them when they are heated through and the skin is caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill pan. Set aside and keep warm.

  6. Prepare the vegetable: Heat the peanut oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the bok choy and long beans. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add enough sesame dressing to coat the vegetables lightly, and cook until just tender yet still somewhat crisp.

  7. Place the vegetables on a large serving plate. Top with grilled quail and some of the relish. Drizzle all over with a little of the remaining sesame dressing. Serve remaining relish on the side.

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