Quails’ eggs and seaweed, like café complet or figs and yoghurt, is a combination that is mentioned in both the literary and cinematic adventures of James Bond. In the novel of You Only Live Twice (1964), James Bond is served lobster, rice, raw quails’ egg in sauce and bowls of sliced seaweed at a hostel in the Japanese seaside village of Gamagori. Bond’s thoughts about the quails’ eggs and seaweed go unrecorded, although in fairness, he’s understandably distracted by the lobster’s head that crawls off the plate.
In what appears to be a nod to this meal, the manager of Hong Kong’s Rubyeon Royale Hotel (geddit? forty years of Eon) offers James Bond lobster, quails’ eggs and sliced seaweed in Die Another Day (2002).
My recipe is inspired by these two occasions. The dish is quick to prepare, making it a perfect starter or snack, and uses ingredients that are not too difficult to come by in the current, restricted circumstances.
- A dozen quails’ eggs
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- Sprinkling of sugar (approx. a third of a teaspoon)
- 1 sheet nori (for sushi)
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
Bring a small pan of water to the boil, then carefully place the eggs in the pan. Boil the eggs for 2½ minutes, then drain and cool the eggs under cold water.
Mix the soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a bowl. Peel the eggs, then place the eggs in the bowl, turning them gently to coat them with the sauce.
Finely chop the nori sheet. Heat a small frying pan, then over a medium heat, dry-roast the sesame seeds, cooking them (stirring frequently) for about 2 minutes until they have turned a light brown. Add the chopped seaweed and continuing stirring for about 30 seconds.
Tip the sesame seeds and seaweed into the bowl, then gently turn all the ingredients to mix. Serve, ideally with a glass of sake.