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Chim cút nướng quất/tắc muối / Roasted kumquat quails

We’re excited to share with you a real simple dish we created that’s been a runaway hit at every dinner we’ve served it. At the heart of the dish is our love for the flavor of salted kumquats, with its floral citrus scent transformed into an earthy and complex ancient aroma after months of aging. That flavor paired with juicy, just slightly gamey quails proved to be a winning combination, one that we haven’t encountered anywhere else.

Roasted kumquat quail - photo courtesy of Elaine Vo

 First you’ll need to make your own salted kumquats. The process we used and posted is very simple – but it does take at least 2 months for the kumquats to be perfused with salt. Like a fine wine or whiskey though, the flavor will continue to refine and mature as time goes on. At the most recent dinner, we used 6 month old kumquats, which were so fragrant people demanded that we also make drinks (see side note 2) with them.

Salted kumquats (and kumquatted ginger)

For 6 quails we used 8 kumquats to make the marinade. Kumquats were halved to remove all seeds before mincing well. A teaspoon of kumquat brine was added for salt and additional kumquat flavor. Other ingredients used were 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ~2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water to make enough marinade to cover the quails. Make sure you season to taste (should be on the saltier side) before adding to the quails because as always, we don’t have exact measurements for our original creations.


We placed quails in the kumquat marinade in a vacuum bag to speed up the marinating process. Otherwise, overnight marinating would be sufficient.

Then we roasted the marinated quails skin side up on a bed of freshly washed vegetables. The vegetables ensured the quail meat was moist while the skin was crispy. We used lettuce this time because we happened to have a lot of it on hand. At other times, we used basil and/or other herbs if we had lots of them. We found that while the bed of herbs used for roasting made the oven and kitchen smell great, it didn’t impart herbal fragrance in the meat being roasted. Thus, lettuce would do just fine. We roasted the quails at 375 degrees Farenheit for about 45 minutes and then finished with a quick broil at the end.

Kumquat marinated quails on a bed of lettuce

 Side note 1: While we’re generally open to using ingredients at hand, and salted kumquats are not commercially available, we’ve resisted using salted lemons/limes because the differences between the two were not negligible. Salted lemons/limes are sharper and not as light and floral as kumquats. Salted lemons/limes are traditionally paired with duck either as an additional ingredient in dipping sauce or as a marinade.

Side note 2: Salted kumquat drink was made by adding 1 kumquat and 1.5 teaspoons of sugar per 8 oz glass of water. Kumquat were mushed up thoroughly to release flavors. That’s all there is to making a delicious, refreshing, scientifically proven rehydrating drink!

Roasted kumquat quail

We love kumquats, we love salted kumquats even more. That one was transformed to the other via a traditional preservation technique using very few and simple ingredients just added to the appeal. There is so much potential in salted kumquats, but so far as we know they’ve only been used elsewhere to make the drinks. We hope we’ve convinced you to make salted kumquats for your own use and experimentations in the kitchen. We’ll certainly be looking our for more applications for this amazing ingredient.

This post is our contribution to the September 2011 edition of Delicious Vietnam, hosted and compiled by Phuoc from Phuoc’n’delicious


  1. I like that your salted kumquat was not so salty (definitely not as salty as umeboshi, which I’ve been eating a lot lately :-P), and that the skin really makes a nice fragrant crunch.
    I actually wanted a second quail, but everyone else stopped at one so I didn’t want to seem so piggy. 😛

    • Thanks, Mai! 🙂 We’ll make gấc-marinated quails next time so you can compare.

      Awww, next time, please feel free to eat more. Actually, you should ask Dang to tell you about the first time I met his parents for dinner. Then you’ll never hesitate to go for second, or third, or fourth or fifth at any of my dinners 😀

  2. Hehehe, well now that we’re done with the first impression business, I’ll show you my true self next time 😀
    And I look forward to the gac quails! 🙂 But next time, I can come over earlier to help, I can be the maknae in your kitchen. 😉

  3. Wow that looks amazing! Where do you buy the quails?

    • Thanks, Trang! We bought these quails from Lion market in San Jose. You should be able to find these at any Vietnamese or Chinese supermarkets, I think

  4. Wow, so happy to be a part of delicious Vietnam this month and discover your site and this original recipe I have never heard of before. This is incredible on both counts useingthe salted kumquats, I always had them sweet like in the west and quails I had maybe twice in my life.

    • Thanks, Shulie, for stopping by and for your kind words. Love your blog and look forward to more food idea exchange in the future 🙂


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