Quail Eggs: Indonesia

About 30 years ago burung puyuh, or quails, were easily found in great quantities in paddy fields on the outskirts of larger cities like the region of Sawangan in South Jakarta.

They used to be caught by the farmers living near the fields, to be prepared into fried or soup dishes. But because of the development of many a paddy field into real estate or some other project, the quails are no more and are now raised on farms in mountainous areas as gastronome and epicurean el supremo Suryatini N. Ganie explains.

Quail eggs are therefore still easily available in traditional markets or even in supermarkets. They are available in pack of 24 or 32.
The eggs are much smaller than hen’s eggs, weighing about 15-20 grams each. The skin is covered by dark brown or black spots.

Many people like to eat quail eggs for health reasons and the fact is that these small-sized eggs have a reasonably high nutritional content.

Containing more protein and less fat than hen’s eggs, they are excellent food for those who want to cut down on their fat intake.

Just to compare their nutritional values: a hen’s egg contains 12.7 percent protein and 11.3 percent fat; free-range chicken egg 13.4 percent protein and 10.3 percent fat; and a quail egg contains 13.6 percent protein and 8.2 percent fat.

Nutritionists have found that the small eggs are even more nutritious then fresh cow’s milk, containing among other things vitamins like A, B and B12, and minerals like phosphor and iron.

Quail’s eggs are good for one’s health, as well as good for the skin. They are also good for pregnant women, and after birth.

It is also a food for those suffering from rheumatism. But some people who eat quail eggs say the eggs are best as aphrodisiacs, and are thus sought after and made into many regional dishes needing little preparation; just rinse off before boiling them, then peel off the shell after soaking in cold water for several minutes.

Though quail eggs are still not as common as hen or duck eggs, and are still restricted to some medicinal and culinary uses, they can be used to make many different kinds of foods, like bread and cake.

Some small professional bakers have been trying to use quail eggs in addition to hen or duck’s eggs. But it is still not terribly common.

About the quail itself, in many countries dishes using quails are considered delicious and are considered gourmet food. But unlike their eggs, quails have a bit of a fishy flavor.

Only after a thorough cleaning can the bird be made edible. After discarding the feathers, the intestines have to be discarded and the bird thoroughly cleansed once more.

Spices like coriander, turmeric, pepper and salt are then coated onto the bird and left for half an hour. Then after that procedure, a bit of oil is coated on the bird before being grilled or fried.

For those interested in getting in the quail business, the hilly regions near the town of Sukabumi in West Java, toward Pelabuhan Ratu, are good places to visit. Of course, quails are raised on many other islands.

Last but not least, near golf courses in the southern area of Jakarta, local golfers like to eat quail eggs to get back their strength, eating them hard-boiled with just a bit of sambal. Some creative telur puyuh (quail egg) dishes are also prepared and enjoyed in some nearby eateries.

These include the telur puyuh Sawangan, spiced up with shallots, garlic, chilies and ginger, and telur puyuh Cilandak, with a sauce made of the buah keluak or black nut, giving it a very rich and satisfying flavor.

But looking at international cuisine in Jakarta, many restaurants serving Western food are replacing hen’s eggs with quail eggs when serving salads or even soups, just to give the dishes an interesting touch.

Suryatini N. Ganie