Recipe: Nopi’s Quail with miso butterscotch, pomegranate and walnut salsa

Published: 10 December 2015

Game season doesn’t need to be traditional: take inspiration from Ottolenghi and cook your quail with miso butterscotch and walnut and pomegranate salsa – there’s nothing dry about this dish.


Serves 8 as a starter, 4 as a main

150g white miso paste, at room temperature
50ml mirin
30g light brown sugar
2 tsp sherry vinegar
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp sunflower oil
8 whole quails, de-boned with wing tips left on (1.1kg)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper

150g pomegranate seeds (seeds of 1 medium pomegranate)
70g walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
35g pickled walnuts, rinsed, skin removed, finely chopped (optional)
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp Valdespino sherry vinegar (or another quality sherry vinegar)
1 tbsp olive oil
20g parsley, finely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3.
  2. Use a rubber spatula to spread the miso paste out thinly and evenly on a parchment-lined baking tray. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 20–25 minutes, until the miso has turned to dark caramel: the sides should look burnt and the middle a dark golden-brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Scrape the burnt miso paste off the parchment paper, breaking it as you go, and transfer the pieces to a food processor, along with the mirin, sugar, vinegar, butter and 1 tablespoon of water. Blitz well for 5 minutes to form a smooth aerated paste.
  3. Place all the ingredients for the salsa, apart from the parsley, in a medium bowl with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of water. Mix well and set aside until ready to use, stirring the parsley in just before serving.
  4. When you are ready to serve, set the oven to its highest grill setting.
  5. Place a large sauté pan on a high heat and add the oil. Season the quails with 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper and, once the pan is hot, add them skin-side down in batches. Fry for 5 minutes, turning once, so that both sides get some colour. Transfer the quails to a parchment-lined baking tray and spread 1 tablespoon of miso butterscotch evenly over the skin of each bird. Place the tray under the grill and cook for 1–2 minutes, until the miso starts to bubble and caramelize. Serve at once, with the salsa spooned on top or alongside.


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