Quail Eggs with Flavored Salt

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A common British pub snack is an egg boiled and served in its shell with celery salt. Of course, the better the egg, the better the snack. Recently I was served a perfect version at St. John, Fergus Henderson’s restaurant in London, where they pounded their own aromatics for the flavored salt.

I like to do something similar with quail eggs, using a salt mixture brightened with cumin and cayenne pepper. Quail eggs are quite beautiful served in their speckled shells, so just have everyone peel his or her own, and pass the salt for dipping. The spicy cumin salt is also delicious sprinkled over raw vegetables or any number of other things.

Ingredients

  • 18 quail eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • ¼ cup coarse sea salt
  • Large pinch of cayenne

Method

Bring 4 cups water to a rapid boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quail eggs and cook for 2½ minutes. Immediately cool them in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes, then drain well and put them in an attractive serving bowl.

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan over medium-high heat until fragrant, a minute or so. Coarsely grind the cumin in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small dish, add the salt and cayenne, and stir together.

Pass the eggs and the cumin salt at the table, so each diner can peel and season his or her own.