Who would have guessed by exchanging food ingredients, having a great coffee talk I would end up joining several wild game groups here in The Netherlands. My curiosity has introduced me to otherwise unknown enthusiastic wild game gourmets of cooks and hunters. After a short hesitant period, I ended up buying a wild rabbit or hare directly from a hunter and prepared it Sichuan style version with the infamous dried peppers ‘hua jiao‘ 花椒粒 and ‘la jiao’ 辣椒乾 (literal translation is flower pepper kernels and dried Sichuan chilli). Both are very distinctive spices and not easily replaced if you want to create this particular taste.
Most likely these ingredients are not standard in most Europeans household, for convenience I have added the images to be easily recognised. So you know what to search for, or ask at the Chinese supermarkets or Asian Toko’s.
Homemade Sichuan hot chilli oil is an infused aromatic oil, made of grounded Sichuan chilli peppers (la jiao) and flower pepper (hua jiao) to flavour the oil together with other spices. It is used as a finish in many stir-fries, swirled on top of noodle soups and an integral part in marinades for spicy appetisers. A part of my last batch ended up as food gifts so I need to start over to refill and stock up my own pantry. In the supermarkets/Toko’s, you can buy standard Chilli oil and for sure, the bigger branches may carry a brand of aromatic Sichuan oil as well.
Most Chinese supermarkets carry several brands, for advanced gourmet sleuths they will have like me two kinds of sesame oils (or more) for their distinct flavours and purposes. If you are just venturing into Asian cooking, you can luckily buy smaller bottle quantities and experience the differences by yourself. Once in your pantry, it will find its way in many other dishes and cooking styles. Note of caution, sesame oil is not intended for frying, but only quick sauté for example to fragrance a dressing or sauce at the end of cooking.
Spicy Hare or Rabbit in Chinese Food Therapy
In my childhood rabbit meat was a staple ingredient and prepared by my parents in many dishes stir-fries, stews, and herbal soups with traditional Chinese medicine. The latter to make a tonic with the purpose of strengthening and nourishing the body. Cooking with Chinese herbs is about recuperating the body and rabbit meat is well known for its high protein content.
In Chinese dietic therapy; “According to TCM food, like medicine can be divided into the characteristics cold-hot-cool-warm, which when applied right, can help the patient to overcome an inclination to or even a manifested disease and thus achieve the same goal which medicaments would”. For more information on the use of tonics and food therapy, click on the links. Browse the internet for more in-depth TCM information and/or elaborate search on practices and belief system.
Rabbit or Hare meat is considered foods with warming qualities, to use this effect I thought to surprise the family dinner with a different wild game dish adding a bit of spice. A few days later I posted food pics of my Sichuan style cooked spicy hare dish just for fun between all other social media posts. To my big surprise, it was received with great enthusiasm by community members and other social media channels. Request poured in to share my recipe with ingredients and preparation method.
Instead of a wild rabbit, hare, you can make this dish with other meats as well, for e.g. lamb would be very nice with the peppers, capsicum, and daikon (rettich or aka white carrot). The good part here is again the stir-fry technique and use of spices remain the same, but meat and vegetables can be easily substituted with what you have at hand or your favourite choice instead.
To prepare this dish for dinner follow the recipe and method in the link hereunder.