Grilled Quail with Sweet-and-Sour Plum Glaze 

Plums and blackberries form the backbone of this sweet-savory glaze from Top Chef Season 17 winner Melissa King; it's perfect for quail but also delicious with bone-in chicken thighs or pork chops. Serve alongside a crisp and refreshing Arugula-Radish Salad with a tangy lime-sesame dressing for the perfect summer meal.

Grilled Quail with Sweet and Sour Plum Glaze
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely
Active Time:
1 hrs 35 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 6 small (5-ounce) plums, divided 

  • 1 cup fresh blackberries (5 ounces)

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1 cup packed plus 2 tablespoon light brown sugar, divided

  • ½ cup rice vinegar

  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced (1/4 cup)

  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) Shaoxing wine, divided

  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger, divided 

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce, divided

  • 2 teaspoons grated garlic, divided

  • ½ teaspoon sriracha chile sauce

  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander 

  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper, divided

  • 2 whole star anise

  • 1 medium (1-ounce) jalapeño, stemmed and halved crosswise 

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 4 (4-ounce) skin-on semi-boneless quail, butterflied  

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • Arugula-Radish Salad (see Notes for recipe) 


  1. Chop 2 plums to equal 1 3/4 cups. Cut remaining 4 plums in half lengthwise; remove and discard pits. Reserve halved plums for grilling. Place chopped plums, blackberries, orange juice, 1 cup brown sugar, rice vinegar, shallot, 1 tablespoon wine, 1 tablespoon hoisin, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic, sriracha, coriander, 1/4 teaspoon white pepper, star anise, and 1 jalapeño half (reserve remaining half for another use) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; vigorously simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a glaze-like consistency, 40 to 45 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl. Using a rubber spatula, press solids to yield about 1 2/3 cups sauce. Discard solids. Reserve 1/3 cup plum sauce for basting; set aside.

  2. While plum mixture cooks, stir together soy sauce, sesame oil, remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons wine, remaining 1 tablespoon hoisin, remaining 1 teaspoon ginger, remaining 1 teaspoon fish sauce, remaining 1 teaspoon garlic, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon white pepper in a large bowl. Add quail; turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes or up to 12 hours.

  3. Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill to high (450°F to 500°F). Remove quail from marinade. Transfer quail to a rimmed baking sheet; discard marinade. Sprinkle quail evenly with salt and black pepper. Place quail, breast sides down, on oiled grates; grill, uncovered, until skin is lightly charred and grill marks form, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook 1 minute for medium doneness, brushing with some of reserved 1/3 cup plum sauce during final 10 seconds of cook time. Flip and cook until glaze caramelizes on skin, about 1 minute, brushing with some reserved plum sauce during final 10 seconds of cook time. Remove quail from grill; let rest 5 minutes.

  4. While quail rests, place reserved plum halves, cut sides down, on oiled grates; grill, uncovered, until lightly charred and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes. Remove from grill.

  5. Brush quail with some reserved plum sauce. Serve with arugula-radish salad, grilled plum halves, and remaining plum sauce.


Whole or semi-boneless quail may be purchased from

Arugula-Radish Salad

Whisk together 2 tablespoons lime juice, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, 1/4 teaspoon minced shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon honey in a large bowl. Drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil, whisking until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add 6 cups arugula, 3/4 cup thinly sliced watermelon radishes, and salt and pepper to taste; gently toss.

Make Ahead

Plum sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Suggested Pairing

Earthy Italian white: Garofoli Macrina Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi

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