Fragrant Salt

  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon five-spice powder

Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 semi-boneless quail
  • 2 to 3 cups peanut oil for deep-frying


  1. To make the fragrant salt: Combine all ingredients in a spice grinder or a blender and grind until fine. Transfer to a small bowl.
  2. To make the dipping sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside at room temperature.
  3. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a wide pot and add 1 tablespoon of the fragrant salt. Add the quail to the water and boil for 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and pat thoroughly dry; transfer to a plate.
  4. In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil (enough to barely cover the quail) to 390F over medium-high heat. Cook the quail one at a time, and keep a lid handy; if the oil splatters too much, simply cover the pot with the lid. Add 1 quail to the pot and fry for 1 minute, then flip the bird and fry for another 30 seconds. It should crisp up very fast and turn a dark, shiny amber. Drain on paper towels, pat dry with more paper towels, and immediately sprinkle with some of the fragrant salt over the quail. Repeat this process with the rest of the quail.
  5. Serve the quail with the dipping sauce and the remaining fragrant salt on the side.

Note: Semi-boneless quail have been partially boned, leaving the wing and leg bones intact. If you are using wild-caught quail, simply remove the back bones and leave the breast meat on the breastbone.