Monday, 14 February 2011

Not so fast, Bunny!


In January 1999, Dean and I stopped over in Hong Kong on our way back from New Zealand to London. We stayed with our friend’s Derek and Chantal who have been living there for years. On our first evening, they took us to this amazing fish restaurant in Lamma island, which was about 30 minutes away by junk boat from the main Hong Kong Island. We chose our fish from a fish tank (back then this to me was a major novelty). It was line caught that morning. I will never forget the taste of that fish and the energy of that place. On the boat going back, we watched the flickering city lights. What a sight!
 
At the time, Hong Kong  was getting ready for the celebration of the Chinese New Year, the year of the rabbit. It was so exciting! There were citrus trees in every corner and the predominantly orange colour brought radiance to the place.  On the next day,  I met my friends Ron, Lap and Carla (who was also visiting from Brazil). They took me to the streets of HK. We went  for lunch in a fantastic traditional Chinese restaurant, where I remember eating one of the most delicious foods ever. We shopped like there was no tomorrow and in the evening we went to a very funky bar - an unbeatable combination of friends and great food.
Twelve years later, we are again at the year of the Rabbit. Derek and Chantal no longer live in HK anymore.  But, Ron, Lap and Carla, coincidentally, are  reunited once again. When I received their New Years card, all the senses of my previous time with them came back. The smell and colours of the foods and the city…These 12 years flew by!
Carla, Ron and Lap, I wish I was there!
Derek and Chantal: Thanks for our first time HK experience. Kung Hey Fat Choi!

So rabbit, it be.
The ingredients

Let it boil and simmer in low heat for 1 1/2 hour

My Slow Braised Rabbit! 

Slow Braised Rabbit with Carrots and Olives
serves 4
The ingredients in this dish lend a lovely earthy taste to it. The chilli flakes adds a bit of heat, making it a great choice for the Winter. Farm raised Rabbit meat is slightly similar to chicken meat but the wild has a strong gamey flavour. I like eating this dish like the Italians. I buy a very good organic sourdough bread and dunk the pieces in the rabbit juices. It is soooo good!!!

Ingredients

1 rabbit, jointed
2 tbsps Olive Oil
Sea Salt
1 large Shallot (you can also use a small white onion), diced
7 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 carrots
2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
½ teaspoon Dried chilli flakes
170ml white wine
1 ½ cups water
1/23 cup pitted olives
Zest of 1 lemon

Method

Season the rabbit pieces with sea salt and leave it for at least ½ hour. Put the olive oil in a large casserole pot set over a high heat. Sear the rabbit pieces, do not overcrowd the pot, until the skin reaches a golden colour. Set them aside.

Turn the heat down  to medium, sautée the onion, garlic, carrot, rosemary and chilli flakes in the remaining oil (you can drizzle a lit bit more of oil if the ingredients are sticking to the pot). Mix them. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the vegetables and add the lemon zest. Let them cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables caramelize. 
Add the white wine. Deglaze the pot scraping any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot. Add the water and the olives and return the rabbit pieces to the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil and the n turn the heat to low. Cover with a lid, slighty ajar and let it simmer for about 1 ½  hours or until the meat is pulling away from the bone. Turn the pieces once and taste the braise for salt. Season if necessary.

The ingredients and their Functional properties

Rabbit  (Lepus cuniculus) is  one of the best source of protein. It has a very lean meat, containing the least amount of fat compared to other meats. It contains the mineral Selenium (contains important antioxidant enzymes), vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12.  Like much other game, rabbit was more commonly eaten in the UK in the 50's than chicken. Today game is no longer part of our every day diet as it was for the older generation. If you can't find wild rabbit in your area, there are good farmers who rear their animals freely, and feed them with natural grass and vegetables and not in poor conditions like in battery farms.You can find them at a good local butcher or in your farmers market* (see my suppliers below). Make sure you find out where the rabbit comes from, how it was fed and what sort of life it lived, because what goes inside it, well...goes inside you too.  

Olive Oil (olea europaea) contains essential fatty acids, can prevent atherosclerosis, ischemic heart diseases, stimulate the secretion of bile, lower blood cholesterol, possess antioxidant properties. 

Garlic: previously mentioned here 

Carrot (Daucus sativus) improves the healthy of the digestive system; treating indigestion and excess stomach acid and heartburn,  prevents gallstones, alleviates constipation, stimulates appetite, alleviates dermatitis, benefits the lungs and is diuretic. They are very high on the antioxidant beta-carotene (provitamin A), which treats night blindness, ear infections, earaches. Warning: overcomsumption of carrot juice may lead to weakened of the kidney. Do not drink more than 4 cups of this juice a day. 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinnalis) has been known for years as the herb for the remembrance. It is good for the heart as well as for the memory. A tea made with the herb is good to help you when you are feeling forgetful and mentally tired. You can inhale some drops of rosemary oil (or you can also crush the fresh herb) to stimulate the brain cells. Rosemary is good for indigestion, stomach crampness and flatulence. It is normally added to meat dishes to help with the digestion. The essential oil of rosemary has antibacterial properties. Rosemary has a long history of medicinal use and has been used to treat many ailments. Recent studies have shown that this herb has the ability to prevent age related skin damage, boost the healthy functioning of the liver and acts as a diuretic. It contains vitamin E.
            * I bought my rabbit, and buy most of my meat from my local butchers. If you live in Hampstead area, you can contact the lovely Patrick and/or Farza here: http://www.meatnaturally.co.uk/ . Unfortunately , at the moment, they only deliver locally. 

            When I have time I love going to Borough Market http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

            If you don't live in London or would rather shop online, you can try these online delivery companies here: http://www.graigfarm.co.uk/  or http://www.natoora.co.uk/


            Kung Hey Fat Choi (Happy New Year) to all!


            Till next week!



            
            




            
            

            3 comments:

            1. YUM YUM YUM! Happy new year! xoxo

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            2. Delicious! I can almost smell it. The pics are always very attractive. I love your recipes. They have a touch of “Mediterranean cuisine”. The nutritional value added is very well explained. It’s interesting and very useful. I wonder if I can substitute the rabbit for another type of meat. If I put a rabbit on the table, he will not “go fast”, but my family will run away. Lol
              By the way, you’re also a very creative writer. I loved the expression “So rabbit, it be”. It’s funny – we have a recipe of a Beatles rabbit…lol

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            3. Dana, thanks! xoxo

              Rose, thanks for your compliments and funny comments. Well, if your family don't like the idea of eating a "fluffy bunny", then you can by all means cook it with chicken instead.

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