Chinese style Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail recipe - Jess Pryles (2024)

Chinese style Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail recipe - Jess Pryles (1)

These tasty little morsels of crispy fried quail get a hit of fragrant Chinese spice and Sichuan peppercorn for a can’t-stop-at-one treat.

Have you ever ordered a ‘salt and pepper’ style dish at a Chinese restaurant? It’s usually available with a variety of different proteins, but amongst the most popular are salt & pepper squid and salt & pepper tofu (which if you have to eat tofu, is one of the most delicious ways to do so). Unlike thick fried chicken batter that is all about the crunchy nooks and crannies clinging to the meat, salt & pepper style is a wafer thin but fantastically crisp coating.

Chinese style Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail recipe - Jess Pryles (2)

Unlike an ordinary poultry batter, the hallmark ingredient of salt and pepper style is five spice powder, a concoction which includes star anise, clove and cinnamon.This S&P style is a perfect pairing with quail and smaller game birds like dove. The exotic spices are bold yet delicate enough to complement the light gaminess of the birds. I like to add a bonus ingredient of ground Sichuan peppercorns, which leave a pleasantly numbing tingle on the lips.

Chinese style Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail recipe - Jess Pryles (3)

For those not lucky enough to bag their own quail, here’s some info on purchasing. Generally, quail are sold by the piece, rather than by weight. So for this particular recipe, I used 8 boneless quail breasts that I then cut in half again. This recipe would be phenomenal with semi boneless meat too – the little wing makes for excellent nibbling.

The real key to successful frying to is make sure your oil is hot enough, at least 300 degrees. It makes all the difference between golden/crispy and oily/soggy. I use and recommend a Thermapen thermometer (which not only lets you temp your oil, but is also invaluable for meat cookery, too.

Chinese style Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail recipe - Jess Pryles (4)


Chinese style Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail recipe - Jess Pryles (5)

Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail

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  • Author: Jess Pryles



8 boneless quail breasts

2 tablespoons Sichuan pepper dry rub mix

3/4 cup rice flour

1/4 cup AP flour

23 cups peanut or vegetable oil for frying

Optional garnish: sliced jalapenos, fresh lime wedges & fresh cilantro


  1. Clean the quail breasts of any sinew or remaining cartilage, then split into two lobes (half the breast into two pieces). If sourced from the wild, ensure there is no shot in the breast pieces.
  2. Combine the Sichuan mix with the rice and AP flour in a bowl.
  3. In a shallow pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium/high heat.
  4. Once the oil is over 300f. Drop a quail breast into the flour mixture and press to coat the entire surface, then gently place into oil. Repeat with additional breasts until pan is full but not overcrowded. You may need to fry in batches depending on the size of your pan.
  5. Cook the breasts for 2-3 minutes on one side, until golden brown, then turn over and cook on the other side for an additional 2-3 minutes. If the quail is not turning golden, increase the heat and allow them to cook an additional minute or so, turning as necessary.
  6. Remove quail onto paper towel to drain any excess oil, then serve immediately.
Chinese style Salt & Pepper Crispy Fried Quail recipe - Jess Pryles (2024)


How do you get crispy skin on quail? ›

For my oven, roasting quail for 14 minutes at 525 degrees is the sweet spot. The skin gets crispy after 14 minutes and the meat is still juicy. Depending on your oven, if you can go higher than 525 degrees, consider roasting it for 12 to 13 minutes. If 500 is as high as you can go, roast for 15 to 16 minutes.

Is fried quail good to eat? ›

Fried quail is crunchy, salty and juicy. The taste is similar to fried chicken and can be eaten with your hands — forget forks and knives. For an extra hint of tang and moisture, soak the quail in buttermilk overnight with some paprika, cayenne and garlic powder. The flavors will shine after you fry the bird whole.

What is the preferred cooking method for quail? ›

Season the quail then sear them in the pan until browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Place quail in the oven and roast until cooked through and juices run clear, about 10 - 15 minutes. Basting the quail every few minutes with olive oil and/or pan juices will help them stay moist.

Do you need to soak quail before cooking? ›

You don't need to marinate or brine the quail, but since the meat is lean and fairly dry, doing so can reduce the risk of drying the meat out during the cooking process.

Why can't you eat quail for 30 days? ›

A persistent myth holds that it is impossible to eat quail every day for a month. This has been the subject of a number of proposition bets; however, it has been achieved on several occasions. This "every-day-for-a-month" estimation may have been derived from a Biblical passage about quail.

Is quail healthier than chicken? ›

Quail Vs Chicken

Compared to eating chicken, eating quail is better for you because quail meat is higher in vitamin C and iron. Quail gives you vitamin A whereas chicken does not. And quail also gives you more minerals and amino acids than chicken meat.

Can you eat too much quail? ›

Conclusion: Although coturnism is a rarely seen toxicological syndrome that causes rhabdomyolysis, we present this case to increase awareness that it may present with symptoms of muscle tenderness, extremity pain, nausea, and vomiting after quail consumption.

What is the secret to crispy chicken skin? ›

To reap those benefits, simply combine one part baking powder with three to four parts kosher salt (about a teaspoon of baking powder per tablespoon of kosher salt will work), add some black pepper to taste, then sprinkle it evenly over the surface of the skin.

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