AT A GLANCE
Reserve the peel from the mandarins you use in the dipping sauce and add a little to the smoking mixture.
|01||Pound Sichuan pepper and dried mandarin peel in a mortar and pestle until finely ground, then combine with salt and ginger in a small bowl. Rub well all over quail, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.|
|02||Scatter rice, brown sugar, tea and spices in a disposable foil roasting pan (see note) and place an oiled wire rack on top (elevate it by resting it on small metal dariole moulds). Brush excess curing mixture from quail, place quail in a single layer on a wire rack, top with another disposable foil roasting pan of the same size, then cover edges with foil and crimp to seal well. Place pan over medium-high heat and cook until smoke appears, reduce heat to low and smoke for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stand for 5 minutes before removing lid, then halve quail and set aside.|
|03||Meanwhile, for mandarin-ginger dipping sauce, combine mandarin, juice, caster sugar, ginger and garlic in a small saucepan, bring to the simmer over medium heat and cook until thick (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce and vinegar. Just before serving, stir in spring onion.|
|04||Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add quail in batches, skin-side down, cook until browned (1 minute), turn and cook for another minute. Serve hot with mandarin-ginger dipping sauce.|
Note Dried mandarin peel and Chinkiang vinegar are available from Chinese grocers. Disposable roasting pans are available from supermarkets and specialist barbecue shops. Alternatively, use two flameproof roasting pans of the same size and line each with several layers of foil.