Szechuan Braised Rabbit with Tofu and Peanuts
For Chinese New Year, I wanted to prepare a rabbit dish to ring in the Year of the Rabbit. I have never cooked rabbit before, but rabbit meat can typically be prepared in the same manner as chicken. The tastes are actually fairly similar with rabbit being slightly leaner. I first started enjoying rabbit at Manhattan’s Bar Boulud with their delicious Rabbit Pâté and recently the Pressed Rabbit With Fingerling Potato and Chicory Salad at the aptly named Beast and the Hare in San Francisco. However, in the spirit of the new year, I wanted to find a Chinese-style preparation of rabbit. I had never eaten rabbit at any Chinese restaurant before but I was sure there had to be some Chinese dishes in existence, primarily because Chinese people will cook with just about anything… I found the most popular recipes included using fermented black beans and hot bean paste and decided that sounded quite delicious. I primarily found inspiration from the Wokai Blog’s Spicy Dry-Braised Rabbit with Tofu recipe, and I added elements from bondc’s Rabbit With Peanuts In Hot Bean Sauce Szechuan and healthy-chinese-recipe.com’s Rabbit Meat with Cashew Stir Fry.
This was my first time ever buying rabbit meat and I went to Chinatown as I don’t recall ever seeing it at Whole Foods. The hardest part of this dish was preparing the meat. The recipe said to just cook it bones and all, but other than the leg bones, the ribs and other tiny bones seemed so sharp and ominous, so I spent a good 15 minutes deboning the thing. Unfortunately, when you remove the bones there is not much meat left to work with as my 2lb rabbit only produced about 1lb of actual meat. But still was a safer overall dining experience haha!
The resulting dish was savory with bold Szechuan flavors of garlic, ginger and chili peppers, plus a nice crunchy finish with a sprinkle of roasted peanuts. I used many of the same sauce ingredients as I did in my Chinese Mabo Tofu… I suppose, if anything, this was pretty much the same recipe but with rabbit instead of pork. I served it with rice and Braised Baby Bok Choy (I was in a braising mode!)
Szechuan Braised Rabbit with Tofu
Yields: 4 servings
- 1 lb rabbit
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 2 T garlic, minced
- 2 T fresh ginger root, minced
- 2 T soy sauce
- 1/4 C chili bean paste (or 2T black bean sauce + 2 T chili garlic sauce)
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 C water
- 1 16oz package firm tofu, cubed
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 4 stalks green onion, chopped
- 1/2 C roasted peanuts, crushed (I toasted them dry on a skillet until browned)
Clean the rabbit meat and cut into small cubes. Marinate in salt, Five Spice power, and cornstarch for 15mins.
In a large wok over medium high heat, add 1 T vegetable oil, chili bean paste (black bean sauce + chili garlic sauce), sugar, sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir in the garlic and ginger until fragrant.
Add the rabbit meat and stir fry for a couple minutes, then lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Periodically add water as necessary to keep the meat moist.
Gently stir in the cubed tofu and continue to cook to allow the tofu to absorb the sauce’s flavor (couple minutes).
Stir in the shallots and green onions and cook for a couple more minutes.
Remove from heat. Sprinkle with roasted peanuts and garnish with some fresh green onion rings. Serve with rice and some veggies, such as Braised Baby Bok Choy.