Mar 23, 2009

Rabbit head

Rabbits are well-utilized animals. Their meat gets used in stews, their fur is made into clothes, and their feet are turned into good luck trinket key chains. The part of the rabbit that you might forget about, however, is the head. In the city of Datong, that piece is put to good use also.

I'd not eaten rabbit head before, so I had to ask the restaurant owner to give the play-by-play instructions. Here's the quick overview from what I learned from the owner and from my own experimentation, so you can impress your Datong friends next time you go out to eat rabbit heads:
  • The stewed rabbit head gets served intact in a stainless steel bowl, long teeth, tongue, and all.
  • If you're going to make a meal out of it, it's recommended that you order about 5 or 6 of them per person (3 yuan each).
  • You'll be given a set of plastic gloves to use, since this is a hand-on type snack.
  • To start off with, grasp the top of the head with one hand and pull on the bottom of the jaw with the other. The jaw will separate with ease, and you can munch on the muscles attached to the mandible (lower jaw). This part of the head tastes kind of like stewed pork or chicken.
  • Feel free to eat the tongue. It tastes like duck tongue, if that helps.
  • The skull has a fair bit of meat, but you need to work for it. It's more about the flavor and texture than the quantity of meat.
  • Use your finger to scrape out the eyeball and meat from the eye socket. There's a hard black circle on the surface of the eye. I believe that it's the iris. Anyway, you want to throw that black part away according to the restaurant owner, it's not good eatin'. Suck down the rest of the eye socket meat though, it's nice and tender.
  • When you're done with the eyes, use your fingers to split apart the skull. Do your best to suck out the small bit of brain inside.
On the spectrum of foods made out of things that might otherwise be thrown away, my opinion is that stewed rabbits head ranks better than pig's feet, but not as good as sheep's stomach. The hardest thing about it is the unpleasant look. It's just very unappetizing looking if you're not used to it.

Here's an exterior of one of the ten or so rabbit head restaurants in this one little area of Datong. This one is called "Mom's Rabbit Heads".

This is another restaurant nearby that's stewing and cooking rabbits with peppers and spices.


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