Make the most of the short asparagus season with this classy starter. Most of it can be prepared in advance too.
For the crispy quail’s eggs, prepare a bowl of 200ml/7fl oz water, the vinegar and a handful of ice.
Cook the quail’s eggs in boiling salted water for one minute exactly, remove with a slotted spoon into the vinegar mixture, set aside for 30 minutes then peel.
Next put the flour into a bowl, the beaten egg into a separate bowl, and mix the bacon and breadcrumbs together on a plate.
Coat the quail’s eggs in the flour, dip into the egg and coat with the breadcrumb mixture. (You may need to coat in the egg and breadcrumbs twice to ensure the eggs are coated well.) The eggs can be kept in the fridge at this point, until ready to cook.
To cook the crispy quail’s eggs, heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based saucepan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
Deep fry the eggs for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
For the herb mayonnaise, blend the herbs and rapeseed oil in a blender until smooth.
Whisk the egg yolk, mustard and vinegar in a bowl until smooth. Slowly whisk in the herb oil until the mayonnaise is thick. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
To serve, cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes, drain and refresh in salted ice water then drain again. Cut in half lengthways and mix together with the salad leaves, vinegar, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Spread some of the herb mayonnaise onto serving plates and arrange the asparagus and salad leaves on top. Slice the tops off the eggs and arrange around the asparagus.
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