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Posted on Feb 14, 2008 | 39 comments

Tip: Fry quail eggs in a ladle

Tip: Fry quail eggs in a ladle

Frying quail eggs in a ladle

Tiny fried quail eggs are just the right size for bento lunches, and taste like regular chicken eggs. Simplify prep and cook them in a ladle! The small rounded bowl of a metal ladle keeps the quail eggs in a nice circular shape, conducts heat well for quick frying, and uses less energy than heating up even a mini frying pan. Hat tip to Japanese-language book of energy-saving tips “Setsuyaku no Urawaza Shittoku Memo” from Shufu no Tomo publishing house, which also recommends a ladle for boiling bento-sized portions of vegetables like snow peas. Read on for directions.

Cutting open a quail egg

To make, you’ll need a fresh quail egg or two, often sold in Asian markets in the egg or refrigerated produce section. People often accidentally break the yolk when cracking open the small eggs, but you can avoid this pitfall by carefully using a sharp knife or egg scissors to lop off the top of the egg. (Fans of soft-boiled chicken eggs might want to check out the cool egg clacker that I first read about here on Food for Thought.) Set the opened eggs back into their carton for easy access while cooking.

Spray a metal ladle with cooking spray and hold over low flame (here I’m using a long Chinese wok ladle). Turn an opened quail egg upside down over the ladle and gently shake the egg if it doesn’t slide right out. Add another egg if you want two cooked together, and add salt/pepper if that’s your thing. Add a couple drops of water to the ladle and cover with a small lid if you want sunny-side up eggs, or use a small spatula to loosen and turn the egg over for over-easy or over-hard eggs. (FOOD SAFETY NOTE: Raw egg yolks can be unsafe at room temperature; cook eggs through for maximum safety.)

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  1. I wish quail eggs were less expensive… it’s 3x the cost of chicken eggs for quail eggs!!!

    still, awesome tips!

  2. @1 from Thalionar: Here in San Francisco I can find them 10 for $1 at the Asian markets. I strongly prefer fresh quail eggs to the canned quail eggs, which are next to inedible because of their rubbery texture.

  3. Do you know how different quail eggs are from chicken? I have a severe intolerance (not allergy) to chicken eggs, but miss the taste very much. I might splurge for quail ones every now and then if I knew I wouldn’t react to them! Plus, they are cute.

  4. How clever! I never would’ve thought of that.

    I’m enjoying your blog immensely. So nice to see someone having so much fun with what would ordinarily be a fairly humdrum task of making up school lunches.

    Thanks, too, for the news about the Japanese discount store. Can’t with until they get their site up!

  5. Does it get hot when you cook like that? Also, is it safe to assume you must stand there the whole time? Thanks Biggie, this is an ingenious idea!

  6. 3x more expensive?! Crazy, they’re 10 for $0.99 here in the Bay Area.

    Do these keep for bentos? I thought about frying quail eggs a couple months ago, but it seems like they would be cold and yucky by lunchtime.

  7. After being inspired by this wonderful blog, I bought some quail eggs a few weeks ago (maybe its even been a month?) and I still haven’t used them. How long do you think they can sit in the fridge before they go bad?

  8. that is such a cute idea! only the Japanese…. X3

    thanks for sharing! if quail eggs weren’t so expensive I’d do this too!

  9. I love this idea! However our stove is flat so I don’t know if this would work out. But I see that in your picture you’re using a camping stove. I have one of those! I’ll have to try this. :D

    @Thalionar: Where do you buy your quail eggs? At most of the asian markets here in the Seattle area they are 10 for $1.

  10. 10/$1, but by weight it is probably a bit higher than the cost of chicken eggs, I’d guess. Though it has been quite a while since I’ve had any quail eggs, so I can’t really remember accurately.

    This is such a cute idea. Our ladles are all plastic, but I’ll try it if I ever come across a metal one :)

  11. @4 from Kitt: Thanks, Kitt — I really am having fun with the lunch-packing thing and my Japanese cookbooks; happy to share my discoveries with everyone else. I’m also happy that Ichiban Kan now has their own blog — now we can all just check their blog for updates instead of my pestering staff without warning! :-)

  12. @5 from Yvo: The ladle does get hot. I held the ladle closer than normal for the photo to show fingers (oh, baby!), but when not taking a photo I held the ladle’s wooden handle. I do stand there the whole time, but because the quail eggs are so tiny it only takes about a minute. I suppose I could have propped the ladle up against my cold tea kettle. Now that I think about it, an all-metal ladle could get pretty hot — I’m glad I used my wok ladle.

  13. @6 from june: Well, the eggs definitely won’t be warm when you eat them. I think of them like flat hard-boiled eggs, which don’t bother me when eaten cold. Because I cook the eggs through, there’s no runny yolk. The one thing that would make them better for me in a bento would be Lizano sauce… :-)

  14. Do you actually cook per portion as some (many?) japanese cookbooks instruct? I am single so I cook for myself + leftovers but many of these recipes call for you to cook 1 portion, then restart 2nd portion until done with the fourth. I just cram everything in there until done. Have you seen any benefit with cooking one per one?

  15. The more I research bento, the more I see that everyone talks about packing them in the morning, and concern surrounds the idea of having enough time.

    Why isn’t it more prevalent for people to make them the night before?

    Also, is it really best not to refrigerate them? I haven’t seen that spelled out specifically, but it seems to be hinted at.

  16. Great idea about the ladle (or small pan) for bento-portion of veggies. I get to stir-frying just a bento for my DH and next thing you know, I’ve made enough for an army instead!

  17. Wendy, I can’t speak for everyone, but I myself ALWAYS pack them the night before. I’m one of those people who has a REALLY hard time getting out of bed in the morning, and making bentos the night before = an extra 10 minutes in bed for me!

  18. Good to know, June. I think I would be the same way. Not a lot of time in the morning. Night before, no problem. Do you refrigerate yours?

  19. Biggie, where did you get your little burner? I have an electric stove, and have a horrible time making small bits of food (and tamagoyaki) on it. I’ve been looking around for an indoor-use single gas burner, but all of the camping-style ones are either ridiculously expensive or outdoors only. Thanks!!

  20. @7 from Mel: Is there an expiration date written on your package of quail eggs? If so, go by that to be safe. If not, a month for quail eggs doesn’t actually scare me — the eggs shown above are about that old and tasted fine. Smell one when you crack it open and see if it seems off.

  21. @8 from Tala: You know, I’d flipped past that page in the book a couple of times before I realized what I was looking at. Once I did, it really captured my imagination — how clever!

  22. @9 from kaits: Our stove is gas as well, but I pulled out our little catering stove (that I usually use for nabe hotpot dishes or yakiniku Korean barbecue) so that I could put it in sunlight for a better photo. I love those little stoves — great for outside cooking (and for power outages).

  23. @10 from Amber in Portland: When you’re shopping, try to look for a metal ladle with a wood handle so the whole thing doesn’t get hot.

  24. @15 from Jessika: I usually cook in bulk — make extra at dinner for planned leftovers. But often in the morning I’ll look for one additional dish to put in Bug’s bento (i.e. when I’m missing a green- or red-colored dish), so at those times I’ll cook for one to round out his meal. If I weren’t taking pictures and blogging his bentos I probably wouldn’t bother cooking for one much, though…

  25. @20 from Devlyn: I picked up a little catering stove cheap from Kamei on Clement St. in San Francisco (about $20, see the shopping guide for bento gear), but you can often find these at Asian markets or restaurant supply stores. There tends to be better variety at the Asian markets, though. People use them a lot for tabletop cooking (think nabe hotpots, yakiniku Korean barbecue, shabu shabu, etc.), and they’re also convenient for power outages and camping. They take little cans of gas that are commonly sold at Asian markets, discount stores, restaurant supply stores, etc. I haven’t noticed them at the big discount stores or Target/Walmart, but I haven’t been looking for them there either.

  26. Thanks for the link to my blog. The egg clacker does a great job at making a clean cut through the egg shell. Maybe you can talk the folks who make the egg clacker into creating a quail egg-sized version.

  27. @26, biggie, I always found those instructions to cook each portions for themselves too time consuming and although I do enjoy cooking, by the third portion frustration was building. I took a cooking class in japanese, great way to learn language to do something you really enjoy, but by the third single prepared omelette of six I was ready to toss the knife in the wall (figuratively speaking of course ;).
    I asked the teacher why and the answer I got was well because. I have never been able to detect any flavour differences in that and the way I cook at home. Why not cook one omelette and cut it into six pieces?
    Oh well, the mysteries of living huh :)

  28. Yes, I always refrigerate. Leaving food out all night is a great way to get food poisoning! Luckily I have access to a microwave at work so if anything needs re-heating it’s no problem.

  29. @29 from Loren: My pleasure on the link, Loren! Your egg clacker is extremely cool — reminds me of when I was a little girl in Canada and my babysitter used to make us soft-boiled eggs in the morning. Very nostalgic!

  30. Oh, dear! Here in Sweden were I live the Quaileggs costs about 5 skr each, that´s about 2 US dollar for 3 quail eggs. Lucky You! :-)

  31. @35 from Ulrica: US$2 for just 3 little quail eggs? Ow, that’s expensive! I don’t think I’d use them so often if I had to pay that much.

  32. Thank you Biggie for the quail egg information. I put a link to your web site on my farm blog so we can all enjoy your thoughts and recipes! I hope to start frying up mini eggs by June. I’ll let you know how that goes.

  33. @37 from Don: Those tiny baby quail on your farm blog are just adorable, Don! I was so sad to read that you lost one in 1/8th inch of water — babies are so delicate. Good luck with the egg production!

  34. What a great idea! Unfortunately, I always worry about the oil splashing out of the pan when adding water, so I never tried it despite my curiosity. Can someone reassure me?

  35. @39 from Joyc: As long as you don’t use a lot of oil to start with, keep the heat low, and only add a little water, it’ll be just fine — no splashing.

  36. Wow, that’s great! I never fried quail eggs, but i will try. Thank’s God in my country quail eggs is cheap, for 25 eggs less than 1 dollar, even cheaper than chicken egg.

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