A Bird So Nice, It Gets Fried Twice

Good Bite

BY ANDREW FABIAN SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY OCT 13, 2020

When presented on a plate, a whole roasted quail looks like the runt of some litter of inbred chickens. Small to the point of parody, the bird, in all of its diminutive, tiny-winged and gamey glory, nonetheless enjoys a spot in the cuisines of almost every country. The French lay claim to their classic quail and grapes preparation while the Italians might enjoy theirs alla cacciatora, but in Vietnam, the bird gets the street food treatment.

Called chim cut roti, the whole roasted quail served from sidewalk stalls around the country gets fried twice in butter. The first go around crisps the skin a bit and offers its maker a pristine selling tool. After the first dip in the pan, the birds get stacked to entice passersby with their lightly browned exterior and the unmistakable, mouthwatering smell of meat seared in butter. When ordered, the quail’s second passage through the buttery crucible transforms it into the deeply browned, buttery treat that, at least in the case of the smallest quails, can actually be eaten whole—bones and all.

At Sarasota’s institution of Vietnamese cuisine, Pho Cali, this twice-fried quail makes two appearances on the menu, once as an appetizer served with sweet soy sauce and once in the fried rice section. The roasted quail fried rice (#129, com chien cut roti) comes with two quartered birds atop a buttery heap of rice sautéed with eggs and scallions. What the quails lack in size, they make up for with the novelty of an engaging, somewhat macabre but altogether adventurous eating experience.

Pho Cali, 1578 Main Street, Sarasota, www.phocalisarasota.com, 941-955-2683

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