When I was writing the menu and recipes for City Pork Brasserie and Bar, I kicked around ideas for a rabbit dish. We wanted to stay true to rabbit’s Louisiana roots by combining a game meat like rabbit with the Southern staple dumplings. The biggest question we had? How could we put an ethnic spin on rabbit and dumplings?
Do we go with a German style and use pierogi for the dumpling? Make a traditional Southern-style dumpling using a unique flour base? Perhaps an Asian style dumpling using gyoza?
While I was working on trial versions of these different styles of dumpling, my wife and I got Chinese food from one of our favorite small Chinese restaurants, China Wok in Central, Louisiana. It’s located near our house, and they know me by voice when I call for takeout. They often complete my order before I finish saying it. We ordered steamed dumplings with dipping sauce, and something clicked. That style of dumpling would be perfect, and I could make a gravy from the flavors in that dipping sauce.
On my next visit to the Chinese restaurant, which wasn’t too long after that night, I asked one of the owners about the main ingredients in the sauce. It took her a minute to actually realize what I was asking but then she proceeded to tell me the ingredients. The next day I went to City Pork and wrote the recipe for the rabbit and dumplings that, judging from the feedback, has become a favorite at the restaurant. I want to thank the family at the China Wok for inspiration.
- 2 cups cooked pulled smoked pork
- ½ cup chopped green onion
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons sambal paste (ground fresh chili paste)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 32 prepared gyoza wrappers
- 8 cups chicken broth
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sambal paste
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 8 tablespoons dark sesame oil, divided
- 4 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms, divided
- 4 cups shredded cooked rabbit, divided
- Garnish: crisp coleslaw, chopped fresh cilantro
- For dumplings: In a medium bowl, combine pork, green onion, and garlic. In a small bowl, whisk together sambal paste, soy sauce, Creole mustard, white pepper, cumin, and sesame oil. Pour over pork mixture, and toss until combined. For each dumpling, lightly moisten edges of wrapper with water. Spoon about 2 teaspoons pork mixture on bottom half of each wrapper. Fold dough over, and press edges to seal. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place assembled dumplings on prepared pan, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate while preparing Rabbit Broth and Caramel Roux.
- For rabbit broth: In a small stockpot, combine broth, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sambal paste, sesame oil, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Whisk in Caramel Roux; bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool. Skim off excess oil. Strain, and set aside.
- To finish: In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add 4 dumplings; cook until crisp and brown on one side, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup mushrooms; cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Shake skillet, and slowly add about 1 cup broth and ½ cup rabbit meat. Swirl pan, and cover; reduce heat to medium-low, and steam for 1 to 2 minutes. Make sure dumplings are hot throughout, and pour into a serving bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining sesame oil, dumplings, mushrooms, broth, and rabbit. Garnish with coleslaw and cilantro, if desired.
- In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, whisk in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is caramel colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl.
- Alternate Method: In a large deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups mushrooms; cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms from skillet. Heat 3 tablespoons sesame oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of dumplings, and cook until crisp and brown on one side, about 1 minute. Shake skillet, and slowly add half of broth, half of rabbit meat, and half of mushrooms. Swirl pan, and cover; reduce heat to medium-low, and steam for 1 to 2 minutes. Make sure dumplings are hot throughout, and pour into serving bowls. Repeat procedure with remaining sesame oil, mushrooms, dumplings, broth, and rabbit.