The quail egg appetizer at Kim Alter's Nightbird is one of our 2017 Big Eat dishes for a reason.
The secret? Brown butter in the Hollandaise sauce gives the dish a nutty, warm aroma and flavor, while crispy fried leeks and melty egg yolk mingle for a bonanza of textures.
Planning a dinner party at home? Here's your elegant starter.
Quail egg with fried leeks and Hollandaise
1 pack quail eggs (normally, 10 each)
1 large leek
1 cup brown butter
1/2 cup white wine
1 shallot, sliced
1 sprig tarragon
3 egg yolks
Salt to taste
Fleur de sel
2 cups rice oil (or other high-heat vegetable oil for frying)
1. Clean and slice leeks into long strips (chiffonade). Place in bowl and pour hot water over them. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Drain and dry. Heat oil to around 375-400 degrees. Fry until golden brown and crispy, then take out and place on a napkin to soak up excess oil. Season with salt.
2. Bring a small pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Have a timer ready and place quail eggs in boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Place directly in an ice bath. Peel eggs when cool enough to handle. Place in a warm spot.
3. Sweat shallot down in a little bit of oil and add tarragon. After a couple minutes add in white wine and reduce by half. Strain. Place reduced wine in a blender and add 3 egg yolks. Blend for about a minute. Slowly start dribbling the brown butter into the blender. Make sure to pour slowly so the Hollandaise emulsifies properly. Once it has a thick consistency, season with salt to taste.
4. In a small spoon or bowl, place a pinch of fried leeks. Put the quail egg in the middle and put a pinch of fleur de sel on top. Dollop the hollandaise on top. Serve warm.