A sexy hard-boiled egg? Well, that’s how my good friend described this springtime amuse bouche when I planted it atop his dinner plate last weekend. Come to think of it, there is something pretty alluring about peeling back these eggs’ dappled cloaks (the shells are pale blue inside) and sinking your teeth into their supple flesh. Try them with a dab of my homemade curry mayo, a freshly sprouted wheat grass “nest”, and a sprinkle of smoked sea salt, and you might just find yourself grabbing for a cigarette! Note: This mayo is very thick and relatively spicy, just as I like it for an accent-garnish. But feel free to adjust seasonings to taste. You will also have plenty leftover to slather on sandwiches!

Yield: About 2 dozen hard-boiled quail eggs and 1 3/4 cups mayonnaise

Egg-ceptional Appetizer
Egg-ceptional Appetizer Photo by Julia M. Usher

Prep Talk: The mayo is best used within 3 to 5 days and will thicken as it sits in the fridge. Thin it as desired by whisking in a small amount of warm water before serving.


Hard-boiled Quail Eggs:

  • About 2 dozen quail eggs (when I can’t get them locally, my source is fromthefarm.com)
  • About 5 cups cold water to amply cover the eggs
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

Curry Mayo:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white or white wine vinegar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups grapeseed or other mildly flavored oil
  • 2 tablespoons or more warm water

Garnish (optional):

  • Freshly sprouted wheat grass (no more than 1 1/2 inches tall, or the grass can get tough)
  • Smoked sea salt (I love Matiz smoked sal del mar from Spain.)


1 | Boil the eggs. Carefully place the eggs in a large pot filled with the cold water and vinegar. Note: The membrane beneath a quail egg shell is much tougher than that of a regular chicken egg. The addition of vinegar to the water helps tenderize this membrane, making for easier peeling later. Place the pan over medium-high to high heat and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes for hard-boiled eggs (less if you want the eggs softer). Immediately (but carefully) drain the eggs into a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Immerse the eggs in more cold water until completely cooled off; then drain and refrigerate until ready to serve.

2 | Mix the mayo. Combine the yolks, vinegar, curry powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and process well (about 1 minute). With the processor running, ever so slowly add the first cup of oil in a steady stream. (If you add the oil too fast, an emulsion of the oil and other ingredients will not form, leaving your mayo runny.) Continue to add the remaining oil, and process until the mayo is very thick. Add two or more tablespoons warm water to thin the mayo, as desired, and adjust the seasoning. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

3 | Plate and serve. Present the hard-boiled eggs unpeeled. (Most of the fun is in having your guests peel the eggs and discover the surprise blue color inside the shells!) I used vintage brown transferware butter pats – the perfect scale – as my serving dishes, with two eggs and a tiny tuft of wheat grass on each plate. And to allow guests ultimate control over their seasoning, I presented the mayo and salt separately to the side. (Note #1: My husband sprouts a wide range of seeds, including wheat grass, in a small, unassuming tray that sits atop our kitchen counter. You can do the same, or ask your local health or organic food store if they can sprout some grass for you. Just be sure to get it very short and tender. Note #2: For easiest peeling, crack the eggs completely on all sides before starting to peel.)