Project Description

Quail in Chinese Masterstock

Masterstock is one of the great flavours in Chinese cooking. Once made, you can have it on hand to transform the simplest evening meal – it is glorious to use when poaching whole chicken or even just breast fillets. I love Quail in Chinese Masterstock. You can buy the spices ready made or mix your own.

Serves 4 as an entree
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

4 quail
peanut oil for deep-frying
soba noodles, to serve (optional)
Asian greens like baby bok choy, to serve (optional)
OR Chinese 5 spice salt made with 1 tablespoon salt to 1 teaspoon lightly toasted Chinese 5 spice, to serve

½ cup (110 g) yellow rock (or brown) sugar
150 ml soy sauce
1 pre-prepared Masterstock spice sachet e.g. Herbies

Or Masterstock Spice mix:
2 whole star anise
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
½ teaspoon whole Sichuan pepper
3 cloves
2 cm piece cinnamon quill
1 dried long red chilli
1 piece dried mandarin or orange peel

  1. To make the masterstock, tie the masterstock spice mix ingredients in a muslin sachet and place in a large saucepan with the sugar, soy sauce and 2 cups (500 ml) boiling water. Simmer for 1 hour, then remove the sachet.
  2. Increase the heat, add the quail to the stock and return to the boil. Simmer for 10–15 minutes, turning once halfway through. You may need to weight the quail down with a heavy saucer to keep them covered by the stock. Remove and drain completely. Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Half-fill a heavy-based saucepan or wok with the oil and heat to very hot (or you can heat the oil in a deep-fryer). Plunge the quail into the oil and deep-fry for 3–5 minutes until they are the colour of mahogany. (Alternatively, split the quail open down the back and cook on a barbecue for 3 minutes each side.)
  4. Serve with soba noodes, stir-fried Asian greens and oyster mushrooms.

Lyndey’s note: After use, masterstock can be strained carefully, then kept in the fridge and reused as long as it is boiled weekly. Over time you will need to add more soy and spices.

Recipe from Just Add Spice by Lyndey Milan and Ian Hemphill. Available for purchase online for $49.95 AUD by clicking here.

Photo by: Chris Chen