Hunter Recipes: Mashed Quail with Mountain Dew Ponzu


Randy King is a revenue contributor at Idaho Fish & Game and lives in Nampa, Idaho. He is a trained chef, avid hunter and fisherman, author of the cookbook “Chef in the Wild” and has written articles on gastronomy in numerous national publications..

One day, while hunting along the Snake River, my boyfriend and I played “hop-scotch-boats” with another group of hunters. It never failed until when they floated in front of us – a flock of quail was unleashed. The boaters offered us shooting suggestions after we had shot the birds (often unsuccessfully). Comments like “Oh! Just missed! ”And“ A little behind that one! ”Could be heard. They thought it was hilarious, although at the time Ryan and I weren’t so amused.

It occurred to me later that this was a classic case of a chair quarterback and an example of humor shared between people participating in the same activity. Most hunters I know, myself included, are great at giving advice but have a hard time applying it. I would be lucky enough to have one in five birds, but I would always have expert advice on shooting tips, throttling, strategy. And in the end, the memories last because the “failures” are those that our friends do not let us forget.

Butcher & Dressage:

Pluck 8 quails and remove the entrails, head and bottom of the wings.

To “crush” the quails, lay them on their backs and press firmly on the breast. This will flatten the bird, allowing it to cook more evenly.

Another option for a “crushed quail” is to cut it by cutting off the bird’s spine and ribs with a pair of kitchen scissors. Place the bird’s chest down and cut along both sides of the spine. Remove the rib cage with two more cuts and press flat.

Crushed Ponzu Quail Recipe with Soba Noodle Salad:

Like many of my generation, Mountain Dew was a growing food group. The drink has two main flavors: citrus and sugar. A classic Asian-style ponzu sauce has three flavors: citrus, sugar, and soy. Use the Mountain Dew as a base and you’re 2/3 of the way to a ponzu sauce.

Dew Mountain Ponzu

  • 1 Mountain Dew box
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 inch-sized piece of ginger, peeled and thickly sliced

Add all the ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Refrigerate at room temperature. Remember to save a small amount of ponzu, which will not contain raw meat, for pouring it over the final cooked dish.

Put the quail and ponzu sauce in a Ziploc bag and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Place the marinated quails on a heated grill and pour small amounts of the marinade over the meat. Ponzu is high in sugar so be careful not to burn the bird. Repeat until a firm sauce crust forms on the bird.

Soba noodle salad

With this recipe, any type of round noodle will work. I have used angel hair and spaghetti in the past. Soba noodles are just a Japanese version of the thin, round, wheat-based noodles. You can find dried or fresh soba noodles in most grocery stores.

  • 12 oz cooked and chilled soba noodles
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions each
  • Salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix the zest and juice evenly. Season with salt and pepper.

Put it all together

Place a serving of soba noodles in the center of a plate. Pour a small amount of Mountain Dew ponzu around the noodles. Garnish with hot “crushed” quails and enjoy!

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