In China, we have the following saying: 吃在中国 味在四川 - "Food is in China, but flavor is in Sichuan." I bet you couldn't agree more after tasting rabbit head on your next visit to Chengdu, China - epicenter of world-famous Sichuan cuisine!
Rabbit head is a local delicacy in Chengdu, and though the dish probably sounds shocking and grotesque at first, if you get over with your squeamishness and give this local specialty a try, you won't regret it - the flavor is phenomenal!
Preparing rabbit head is an involved process: first, the rabbit head should be blanched in hot water, and then soaked in a mixture of salt, cooking wine, and ginger powder for 12 hours. After that, it can be stewed in any number of flavorings, such as cinnamon, fennel, or chilli over a high flame for 10 minutes or so, and finally steeped in the flavoring for a few hours to ensure that the meat absorbs the flavor.
After all that, the finished rabbit head dish is ready to be served, usually seasoned with sesame and chilli powder. Eating rabbit head requires skills much like those used when eating crab or lobster. To get all the meat, those enjoying this Chinese delicacy must give special attention!
Nearly every street in Chengdu, China has street vendors and small restaurants selling their own unique flavor of rabbit head, but the most authentic rabbit head restaurant is "Old Mother from Shuangliu's Rabbit Head," located near the Shuangliu Old Station.
As the story goes, "old mother" was selling hot pot at her shop in Shuangliu (home of Chengdu's airport today), but her son liked eating rabbit head so much that his loving mother also made rabbit head in her homemade sauce specially for him. The customers coming to her small hot pot restaurant heard of her homemade rabbit head dish and went crazy for it when they got a taste. From that point on, she shifted her business from hot pot to her special rabbit head delicacy, and its popularity soon took off througout Chengdu and around China.
Next time you are in Chengdu on a tour of Sichuan, China, the capital of world-famous Sichuan cuisine, don't be afraid of trying something new and unusual in Chengdu - it's all part of the experience!