Apr 15

Quail Eggs Benedict Pagodas

in Breakfast, Eggs & Tofu, Japanese, Rice & Noodles

I was recently asked by Challenge Dairy to come up with a creation using one of their butters.  The last time they gave me this challenge, I dreampt up Chipotle Pork Quichelettes—mini quiches featuring a special no-fail crust where butter is the star.  So when Challenge Dairy challenged me to a round 2, I quickly said yes—obviously good things happen when their butter is around.  With a coupon that they sent me in the mail, I went to the grocery store and picked up a box of Challenge Dairy European Butter (my favorite out of their products), and then let it sit in my refrigerator for a few days trying to figure out what to do with it.

European Challenge Butter

Then I saw a tweet about April 16th being National Eggs Benedict Day.  I bet you know what happened next . . . Eggs Benedict means hollandaise sauce, and hollandaise sauce means . . . BUTTER!  Classic eggs Benedict consists of half of an English muffin, topped with a slice of ham or Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce.  I decided to make a version with a Japanese twist.    Instead of an English muffin, I made a yaki-onigiri base—a rice ball that is lightly grilled.


Instead of a slice of ham or Canadian bacon, I used sauteed slices of fresh shiitake mushrooms.

Fresh Shiitake MushroomsOnigiri + Shiitake mushrooms

For the poached egg, I switched out the chicken egg and went with a poached quail egg.

Quail EggsOnigiri + Shiitake mushrooms + poached quail egg

And finally the hollandaise sauce.  I didn’t do much to this sauce, except for using lime juice instead of lemon juice.  I must admit that I made my hollandaise in the blender.  In my defense, I did it because Julia Child said I could.  Check pages 79 and 81 of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, and you will find the words: “It is extremely easy and almost fool proof to make in the electric blender . . . [and] as the technique is well within the capabilities of an 8-year old child, it has much to recommend it.”  For a busy mother of two young children, those are glorious words to read.  Good butter is essential to a delicious hollandaise sauce.  With butter being one of the main ingredients, the sauce is highly affected by the flavor of the butter that you use.  I like Challenge Dairy’s European Butter because it is rich and creamy with great flavor.

Eggs Benedict Pagodas

The whole creation was finished off with a sprinkling of fresh chives.  Because I used poached quail eggs, this version of eggs Benedict makes mini servings (Challenge Butter must also induce miniature-itis).  I’ve affectionately named them Quail Eggs Benedict Pagodas, because they’re stacked a bit higher than traditional eggs Benedict, like little edible pagodas.

Yaki-onigiri aren’t too difficult.  First you start out by making the onigiri–the rice ball.  I’ve posted a tutorial on how to do this, but here’s a quick refresher: I grab a measuring cup, some sturdy plastic wrap, a clean spray bottle filled with water, and some salt.  I line the measuring cup with a large square of the plastic wrap, spray the plastic wrap lightly with water, and then sprinkle it with salt.

plastic wrap lined measuring cup, spray bottle of water, salt

Then I place about 2 tablespoons of freshly steamed Japanese rice in to the measuring cup,

Put about 2 tablespoons of rice into the plastic wrap lined measuring cup

then gather the sides of the plastic wrap up around the rice,

Gather up plastic wrap around the rice

and begin applying firm, but gentle pressure to form the rice into a cohesive ball.  For this dish, I flatted the balls slightly so that it would be easy to  layer the ingredients on top of them.

Form the rice into compact slightly flattened balls

I then heated a bit of oil in a frying pan and lightly browned the rice balls on both sides.

browning the onigiri

Poaching the quail eggs is quick—just remember to crack them carefully into the boiling water.  It’s much easier to puncture the yolk when the egg is so small!

Quail egg benedict pagoda

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe

Quail Eggs Benedict Pagodas

Makes 8 “Pagodas”

1 cup cooked Japanese rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Cut a large square of plastic wrap and rest it over a measuring cup.  Lightly spray the plastic wrap with the water, and then sprinkle it with a bit of salt (the water helps the salt stick).  Then spoon 2 tablespoons of the rice into the cup.  Gather the plastic wrap up around the rice, then twist the plastic wrap, sealing the rice inside, and firmly press the rice into a slightly flattened ball shape (don’t press too hard or the rice will become mushy).  Unwrap the ball, set it on a plate and repeat the process with the rest of the rice.

2. Heat the oil in a skillet, then place four of the rice balls in the skillet flattened side down.  When the rice ball has browned slightly, flip it over and brown the other flattened side.  Repeat with the other 4 rice balls.  *VARIATION: You can brush the rice balls with a small amount of soy sauce after browning them for a bit of added flavor.


Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms:
4 large shiitake mushrooms thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.  Add the mushrooms and toss them for several minutes in the skillet/wok until they are cooked through and browned.  Remove the skillet/wok from the heat and transfer the mushrooms to a separate container so that they do not continue to cook.


Poached quail eggs:
8 quail eggs

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer.  Gently break the quail eggs, one by one, into the simmering water and let them poach for 1 minute.

2. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking.


Lime Hollandaise Sauce:
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I, p. 81 — 2
Makes about 3/4 cup sauce

3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter, cut into small pieces

1. Place the egg yolks, salt, pepper, and lime juice in the blender jar. (Do not blend yet!)

2. Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat it over medium-high heat until the butter is foaming.

3. Blend the egg yolk mixture at top speed for 2 seconds, and then with the blender running, remove the cover and pour the hot butter into the blender in a thing stream of droplets.  By the time two-thirds of the butter has been added, the sauce should be a thick cream.  Continue pouring, but do not pour in the milk residue that is in the bottom of the pan.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings.


Assembling the pagodas: Place several slices of sauteed mushrooms on top of each rice ball.  Remove the quail eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and set one on top of each of the rice balls.  Top each rice ball with a spoonful of hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of chopped chives.

* VARIATION: For a less-formal version, serve everything over a bed of rice, and use a poached chicken egg in place of the quail egg.


Don’t forget to enter my Jamie Oliver Giveaway and join the Food Revolution!  The contest will close tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow.  See this post for details.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny Flake April 15, 2010 at 7:59 am

You are good! I love all of your beautiful recipes :) Such pretty presentation too!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) April 15, 2010 at 10:49 am

@Jenny Flake, Thanks Jenny!


Maria April 15, 2010 at 8:03 am

Very creative recipe! Love it!


Michelle April 15, 2010 at 8:07 am

Look at those adorable little eggs! And thanks for the tutorial on how to form the rice!


food librarian April 15, 2010 at 8:36 am

OMG! You are soooo creative. These are so cute. I want to grab about 10 of them off the screen and eat them up! – mary


Fuji Mama (Rachael) April 15, 2010 at 10:49 am

@food librarian, LOL, thanks Mary! You made my day! :)


Amber @ Native Food and Wine April 15, 2010 at 8:38 am

Oh those little towers are so cute but more than beautiful they look really good too. Love the name!
I had not heard that Julia said we could make hollandaise in the blender. But then you have to clean the blender…. drag!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) April 15, 2010 at 10:50 am

@Amber @ Native Food and Wine, LOL, that’s why I just throw mine into the dishwasher!


Paula - bell'alimento April 15, 2010 at 8:42 am

Insanely creative! LOVE the addition of the quail egg! Brilliant (as usual ; )


Jen @ How To: Simplify April 15, 2010 at 9:10 am

What a great post! I love the photos and the end result looks delicious!


Cookin' Canuck April 15, 2010 at 9:19 am

These are truly beautiful and original. Your presentation is absolutely stunning!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) April 15, 2010 at 10:50 am

@Cookin’ Canuck, THANK YOU!


Tracy April 15, 2010 at 9:30 am

All I can say is wow. When I did my Challenge Dairy recipe, I made butter cookies – not nearly as creative and beautiful as your recipe!!


Joy April 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

That is an interesting way to approach benedict. I like the mushroom idea. I never had quail eggs before. How are they?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) April 15, 2010 at 11:18 am

@Joy, Thanks! Quail eggs are good! They taste almost the same as a chicken egg, just smaller! My girls love them because they are easy to hold.


Lyndsey April 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Oh my, little packets of perfection! What a talent you have, these look wonderful! I’d love to pop them all in my mouth right now!


Maggy April 15, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Wow! This looks incredible. Great idea.


penny aka jeroxie April 15, 2010 at 7:31 pm

That is so cute and creative! Love it.


Megan April 15, 2010 at 7:53 pm

They look absolutely fantastic! It is so weird seeing amazing food online, wanting it so very much and not being able to order it for lunch. I’m starving! You didn’t say these were a taste sensation or that Squirrel devoured five of them. Were they nice?


Emily R April 16, 2010 at 7:29 am

Adorable!!!! Could you use yuzu for the lime in the holandaise?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) April 16, 2010 at 7:35 am

@Emily R, DEFINITELY! That was actually my original plan, but when I sent my husband to pick some up at the Japanese market they didn’t have any fresh yuzu! :(


Jen @ Tiny Urban Kitchen April 16, 2010 at 9:29 am

Rachel, you never cease to amaze me with your creativity! I love the Japanese interpretation on a classic favorite.


Susan Reed April 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Have you tried this with Natto? It sounds like it might be a great combination… I can’t find any good Natto sources in Redlands though so I’ll have to wait to try it.


mina April 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm

have you ever had crispy rice with tuna in l.a.? are these rice balls anything like those because i have been chasing those things since i left and have yet to find a recipe.


tigerfish April 16, 2010 at 6:18 pm

This looks utterly delicious. Breakfast time!


Fuji Papa April 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm

These look very good. Very original. That’s my girl.


[email protected] April 17, 2010 at 2:30 am

This is absolutely beautiful Rachael! I love all the substitutions you made to make this into an elegant dish you might even serve at a dinner party. Stunning. Not sure where I would get quail eggs though…


Tangled Noodle April 17, 2010 at 6:18 am

Fantastic! I just wrote an article about eggs and a comment left asked about using quail eggs – I’ll be sure to direct her here. Poaching is my new favorite preparation for eggs but I marvel at how perfectly you did it for these! This is a wonderful take on a classic dish.


Mariko April 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm

That hollandaise looks lovely. I don’t like shitake but I could eat all the rest of it easy!


Susan Reed April 20, 2010 at 11:33 am

So your pagodas made me hungry for traditional eggs Benedict and I finally have a good Hollandaise sauce recipe (THANK YOU!) – made them today and they were perfect! No I’ve got to find some quail eggs to try the pagodas the way you suggest…


Esther April 30, 2010 at 2:30 am

Oh my, that rice looks so good. not to mention the whole assembly :)


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