Rural Recipes: Spicy Dry-Braised Rabbit with Tofu


For some reason there was an issue when I posted this yesterday, so here it is again:

On my blog for the Wokai website I have started writing a number of posts featuring the food that I have been eating here and discussing what cooking in a rural Chinese setting is like. Anyone who knows me in the real world knows that Chinese food played a bigger part in my decision to start learning the language than I should readily admit. Besides learning about life and culture in rural China, my second biggest priority for the time that I’ve spent here may be to come back to the US with at least a bare minimum of cooking skills. Most of my posts about food haven’t made it onto this blog yet, something which I will try to rectify in the next week.  Besides, I know all of you who made it through my post the other day about killing the rabbit are dying to know what they did with it afterwards.

They braised the rabbit in a style

commonly referred to as 干锅, or “dry pot.”

The combination of douban 豆瓣, or spicy bean paste, and hotpot seasoning mix made this dish quite spicy, but in my opinion, tolerable. This was my first time eating rabbit, which had a consistency that resembled chicken even more than I expected. Rabbit is actually not traditionally a common food in Yilong County, in large part because the meat is so lean. Chinese peasants prefer fatty meat, a fact which goes a long way toward explaining why pork is by far the most consumed meat here. In any case, I’m sure that anyone aspiring to re-create this dish in the United States would, facing a lack of reliable rabbit sources, probably get much the same result using chicken.

Ingredients (as always, amounts are estimated):

1 packet of spicy hotpot seasoning mix (this can be found at any supermarket in China, and I imagine at Chinese supermarkets in the United States as well)

½ cup of vegetable oil 菜籽油

1 cup tofu cubes 豆腐

1 Rabbit 兔子

Douban 豆瓣, the spicy paste made with crushed chili peppers and salted fermented beans which is a staple in many Sichuanese dishes

½ large white onion 洋葱

~10 peeled garlic cloves 大蒜

1 tbsp. Chicken bouillon 鸡精

1 tbsp. Salt 盐

1 large green chili pepper 尖椒

Cilantro 香菜(for garnish, if desired)

1. Cut the rabbit (bones and all) into bite-sized chunks. My friend needed to slam the butcher’s knife down into the rabbit in order to sever the bones, spraying droplets of water from the cutting board on me as he cut.

2. Fill the wok with hot water and pour the chunks of meat in. Stir the meat for 30 seconds to wash it and then drain the water. Fill with new water and repeat, draining the water again.

Rinsing the meat



Draining the meat

3. Add a ½ cup of vegetable oil and heat in the bottom of the wok.

4. Add a liberal helping of Douban 豆瓣—my friend added a whole ladle—and allow to heat.



5. Pour in the packet of spicy hotpot seasoning mix.

6. Chop the cloves of garlic in half and add them to the sauce.

7. Add the rabbit meat, as well as a half-cup of water, and stir.

8. Continue to stir the mixture, periodically adding water to the mixture to keep it moist. Because so many guests had come for dinner, they ended up cooking two rabbits, resulting in a very large dish that my friend had to sauté for a long time.



9. Add a tablespoon each of chicken bouillon and of salt.

10. Wait until the meat is mostly cooked through before adding the tofu. The tofu needs to be cooked long enough to get the taste of the sauce, but not for too long or it will get too soft.

11. Cut the half onion into slices. Add half of the slices into the pot and continue to stir.

12. Allow the remaining water to boil off from the dish before removing from heat.

13. Cut green chili pepper into rings, chop the cilantro, and add with the rest of the onion slices on top as garnish.

14. Serve!




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