High demand for quail eggs began in North America with the spread of Japanese sushi bars (uni with a raw quail egg broken over it made as gunkan nigiri sushi is one of my favorites), but they are also appreciated by other Asian communities. The photo specimens averaged 0.47 ounce, 1.47 inches long and 1.1 inches diameter.
The specked quail eggs found in markets here are generally from a
Japanese quail variety now widely raised for egg production. The photo
specimens came from Ontario, California. Some quail native to North
America and Europe lay white eggs but those quail are raised mainly
for eating, not egg production.
In the sushi bars quail eggs are most often used raw, but other Asian peoples use them cooked. In Thailand they are fried sunny side up and sold by street vendors 6 or 7 to a bowl. Jars of pickled quail eggs from Vietnam are quite common now. Quail eggs are also a local specialty in parts of North America, either hard boiled as garnishes or pickled as snacks.
Buying: Quail eggs are generally found in the egg section of Asian markets packed in tiny plastic egg cartons holding 10 eggs or 15 eggs. They are also available in cans, already hard cooked and peeled, about 24 per 14 ounce can.
I have noticed that the canned eggs are quite spherical and almost all yolk, with just a thin white layer. Fresh ones from California are pointier and have a white to yolk ratio similar to chicken eggs.
Warning: Buy extras and cook and peel a day in advance when you aren't rushed. Peeling takes patience and care due to the small size and delicacy of the eggs, and the though undershell membrane.
Cooking: For must uses, they will be hard boiled. Place eggs in a pan in one layer (without too much free space) with water to cover by 1/4 inch or so. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Leave covered and let cool until you can dip a finger in for a second or so.
Crack each egg a little, and put them in very cold water for 15 minutes or more. They should now peel successfully, mostly.