In a medium saucepan, combine the soy sauce with the water, shallots, rice vinegar, five-spice powder, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and peppercorns. Simmer over moderately high heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature, then strain the sauce into a large bowl. Add the quail and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
Remove the quail from the marinade and pat dry. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the quail and cook over high heat until the skin is browned and the meat is rare, about 3 minutes per side. Cut the quail in half lengthwise and serve hot, with the Watercress Salad.
A Pinot Noir works well with Asian spices because it generally has low tannin and plenty of fruit. The cabbage, leeks and soy in this dish and the salad will also find echoes in fruity Oregon bottlings.
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