Recently I discovered half a rabbit in my freezer that I’d forgotten about. (This happens quite frequently with me, as I tend not to label things in an involuntary display of textbook un-organization). The other half had been used for a curry – which is another great thing to do with rabbit – with apples in as I found out while making a video about such a thing (different rabbit though).
For some time I had been wanting to try the classic Singaporean dish Hainanese Chicken Rice.
The basic premise of this dish is to make a flavoursome stock using the chicken on the bone, then remove (and debone) the meat and utilize the stock to prepare a tasty rice and an aromatic soup. The dish is then served with a bowl of the soup, a dipping sauce and a salad garnish (usually cucumber and lettuce).
As usual, my adherence to strict epicurean traditions was dictated by what I could find in my store cupboard at the time of cooking. In this case it wasn’t possible to prepare a completely authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice (the use of rabbit obviously representing a major obstacle, to begin with), but being used to improvising (considering what I do for a living), the dish turned out to be a tasty, flavourful and, I’m pretty sure, healthy meal.
Here’s what I did:
For the Stock:
- 1/2 a rabbit – jointed
- 1 Carrot
- 1 stick of celery
- 4 spring onions (scallions)
- a piece of ginger (about 1 inch)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tblsp sesame oil
For the Rice:
- 1 cup of rice
- 2 spring onions
- small piece of ginger
- 1 clove of garlic
- Chopped coriander
For the Salad Garnish:
- Orange pepper
- Cherry tomatoes
For the Dipping Sauce:
- 1 tsp Chinese chilli oil
- 1 tblsp Soy sauce
- juice of 1 lime
- small piece of ginger grated
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- finely chopped coriander
- some sesame oil
For the Soup:
- The stock
- Chopped coriander
The first thing I did was to prepare the stock. As the stock vegetables were also going to be used for the soup, I thought it necessary to julienne them rather than just roughly chopping them as I would for a normal stock.
Then the rabbit went in the pan. Obviously it’s sensible to choose a sizable vessel here, as you want a fair quantity of stock.
Added the vegetables:
Then added water, salt and brought to a simmer. At this point I added the sesame oil quite liberally (although I specify a tablespoon, I tend to enjoy free-styling these things.)
While the rabbit stock was simmering, prepared the ingredients for the rice:
And the salad garnish:
I also prepared the dipping sauce at this point.
The plan was to let the stock simmer for about 1 hour, so after 50 mins I sauteed the spring onion, garlic and ginger for the rice in a little oil (I used sunflower, but you could use olive oil, vegetable oil or groundnut oil – it’s not a deal breaker), and then sauteed the raw rice (which I’d soaked in water for 1/2 hour then drained incidentally) in with the ingredients. The purpose of this (as with risotto or paella) is that the heat of the pan cracks the outer surface of the rice, thereby enabling the flavoursome stock to better penetrate the grain.
I then ladled some stock (about twice the quantity to the rice) into the rice pan, covered, and let simmer till the rice was cooked – adding chopped coriander at the end.
After I added the stock to the rice, it was time to remove and debone the rabbit – roughly chopping the meat and placing on a warmed plate:
All was then ready (when the rice was cooked) for the 2nd most fun bit – assembling the dish (no prizes for guessing the most fun bit).
To do this, I used the old rice-bowl-bowl-rice trick. Place the rice into a bowl and pat down until firmly filled. Then place your serving plate over the bowl, hold both with a firm grip and upend and…. Hey Presto! you should have a neat dome of rice on your serving plate (hopefully).
The rabbit was then placed on and garnished with chopped coriander, with a bowl of the delicious soup (stock). On a separate plate I served the salad and the dipping sauce.
All in all, was a very tasty way to serve rabbit and fun to eat: a forkful of rice and crispy salad, followed by a slice of rabbit dipped in the spicy sauce, followed by a spoonful of smooth, warming broth followed by a large glug of red wine (optional).