Xiang La Tu Zi//Hot and Spicy Rabbit #SundaySupper

Or chicken. Or beef.

Sichuan Hot & Spicy Rabbit - Curried Cantaloupe

The theme of this week’s Sunday Supper is Hometown Food (hosted by Coleen over at The Redhead Baker).

No, I’m not Chinese. Just take a look at my About Me blurb (over there, to your right): I’m a bit taller and blonder than most Chinese women I know.

But as an expat who enjoys cooking, one of my favorite parts of living abroad is learning how to cook like the locals.

Chinese cooking was somewhat of a mystery to me before moving here. The biggest reason Chinese cooking seems so intimidating is the language barrier. Even when one has mastered words like ‘garlic’, ‘scallion’, ‘chicken’, and ‘pork’ in Chinese, you still wouldn’t understand half of the ingredients used to make the dish for which you have no name!

Sichuan Hot & Spicy Rabbit - Curried Cantaloupe Sunday Supper

Reading English translations of Chinese recipes can be equally confusing when you see words like pork shreds or chicken pellets for the first time. The former is just a way of cutting the pork, also called matchsticks by some. It is not the same as pulled pork. And chicken pellets are a way to refer to powdered chicken bouillon – they really are best described as pellets as they are sold here.

It’s also one thing to know if you want to order fish, but what is the name of the fish you want (and for that you have to know what kind of fish are commonly used in your region). Do you want chicken breasts, livers, legs, wings, or feet?


It has taken a year to be able to read even half of the dishes on a menu, and part of reading is knowing what to expect. So, I’ve started to look for dishes like twice-cooked pork, red-fried beef, kung pao chicken, pepper beef, and what not and I can usually find the characters I need to order them. {Insert virtual pat on the back here.} But Sichuan’s signature dishes are not its only dishes.

Xiang La Tuzi - A Spicy Chinese dish highlighting Sichuan cuisine

This is a version of a recipe that might traditionally be made with beef. However, in our school cafeteria, once a week, I look forward to eating this homestyle dish made with rabbit instead (if you are rabbit averse, by all means substitute with beef or chicken). The school usually uses gobs of red onions, cucumbers, and stem lettuce (a crunchy green vegetable that is optional in this dish). It is sinfully delightful!

Xiang La Tuzi - Curried Cantaloupe

It uses an aggressive blend of mala spice that the region is renowned for. Mala refers to two different flavorings. Ma is the tingling, numbing sensation you get when you eat Sichuan peppercorns, and la is the spice you get from the use of dried chilies (the ones that look like guajillo chilies).

Mala is not always aggressive – it doesn’t have to be anyway, but it definitely can be. So, if you want something edgy to serve at your next Chinese-themed dinner party, this is the perfect choice. It would be a great dish to serve with Fish Fragrant Pork and this Winter Melon Stir Fry. The Sichuan people love their heat, but they, like most of the Chinese, believe in creating a harmony in the flavors they are eating. This is largely due to the role food can play in a person’s health. To create a balanced Chinese meal, you should include dishes that have salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and hot elements.

Szechuan Hot & Spicy Rabbit - Curried Cantaloupe

While this is a not a dish from my own hometown (cheese curds where a little difficult to find in China), it is a dish from my adopted hometown, and one I will surely be bringing back to share with the people from the place I grew up calling home.

I found and adapted this recipe from an amazing blogger who has a love affair with this region and its cuisine. Her blog is called the Mala Project, and on it she uses a bilingual cookbook that was created by the Sichuan Culinary Institute but only ever available for sale in China. There are over 600 beloved Sichuan recipes in this book. (Guess who is eagerly waiting for her copy to arrive in the mail?)

Sichuan Hot & Spicy Rabbit - Curried Cantaloupe


5.0 from 3 reviews
Xiang La Tu Zi//Hot and Spicy Rabbit #SundaySupper
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
No one does heat like the Sichuan people. If you like mala, an aggressive blend of dried chilies and Sichuan peppercorn, this is the Chinese dish for you. Can you handle the heat?
Recipe type: Stir Fry
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
  • 1 pound rabbit, chicken, or beef (if rabbit or chicken cut into chunks, if beef then slices)
  • 1 cup oil (peanut or canola)
  • 3 tablespoons chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn (you can alternatively take 1 ½ teaspoons and chop them with a sharp knife…be forewarned that bits of peppercorn will fly away as you chop)
  • 4-5 green chilies (jalapenos, serranos), chopped into small rings
  • ½ red onion, cut into large pieces
  • ½ red pepper, cut into large pieces
  • 1 small piece of stem lettuce, cut into thick matchstick
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine (Shaoxing would be most authentic)
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon red chili oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorn oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Sesame to garnish
  • ¼ cup cilantro to garnish
  1. Start by preparing all of your ingredients. The peppercorns and dried chilies can go into a small bowl. Set aside. The vegetables can all go onto a plate together as well. Combine the wine, and sugar into a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Pour the cup of oil into a wok and heat. When you place a piece of meat into the oil it should bubble and sizzle. Add the rest of the meat, cook until done in the middle 3-5 minutes. Remove the meat and empty all but 2-3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the peppercorns and dried chilies and using a metal spatula, and stir for about 30 seconds or until fragrant, being careful not to burn them. Add the vegetables and stir-fry until slightly cooked, approximately 3-4 minutes. Then add back in the meat. Pour the sugar and wine mixture over and add all of the oils. Mix everything thoroughly.
  3. Sprinkle with sesame and garnish with cilantro.


Now that you’ve traveled to the place I’m calling home, why don’t you go visit some of the other home-style dishes the other Sunday Supper bloggers have in store for you!



Appetizers and Snacks

Main Dishes

Side Dishes


Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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    • sircserreb says

      I know some people can’t get past the whole bunny rabbit idea – but I first tried it in a creamy mustard sauce, and thought it was juicier than chicken. If you’re willing to eat it, it’s a nice meat. Enjoy!

    • sircserreb says

      I finally got it today (talk about timing!). There are about 10 recipes I have bookmarked already. At least we won’t be going hungry!

  1. says

    What a terrific, authentic Chinese recipe! Brava for conquering the language barrier—though my adaptation would have to be made with chicken (though Bill’s family was known to eat rabbit, he never jumped on that band wagon :))

    • sircserreb says

      I can completely understand. Sometimes you just can’t get past an idea of eating a certain animal (or part of the animal). Actually we recently had chicken legs at school that tasted an awful like they had used the same blend of spices…I’m sure it would be very good!

    • sircserreb says

      I didn’t know how rabbit would be perceived to be honest! I’m glad you’ll be trying the recipe as is. Chinese food can be quite complex, but a lot of home-style dishes are actually quite easy…it’s just figuring out what they actually eat that can be difficult!

    • sircserreb says

      How many of of them did you get right? I love spicy food, too. We were just discussing that on the playground this weekend – how food would be a big deciding factor over liking this region or not. Look’s like your region might have a few spicy recipes, too by the looks of that post title!

    • sircserreb says

      It would be such an honor if this makes an appearance on your New Year’s table. I bet you’re busy getting ready!

  2. says

    CHRISTINE! I didn’t know you were part of #SundaySupper! I love this recipe, sans rabbit, of course. I’d make chicken, instead. When we were growing up, my parents had these small Chinese cookbooks and we’d make moo shu, kung pao, beef with broccoli, AND egg rolls from scratch. It was delicious!! This reminds me of those meals. Love it.
    Christie recently posted…Hot Brown Ham Sliders – #SundaySupper Hometown FoodMy Profile

    • sircserreb says

      I just joined a couple weeks ago! You should make it with chicken, by all means! I have a feeling you could also make it without frying it first…maybe make it slightly healthier;)

  3. says

    You’re right, the best part about living abroad is definitely learning to cook like the locals! and I love that you used rabbits, one of my favorites,used to eat it all the time in Greece and I really miss it now. This looks amazing!

    • sircserreb says

      I love rabbit, but had only ever had it when other people cooked it up until this point. It was an adventurous post. Hope you enjoy!

    • sircserreb says

      If you can find it, definitely do! It does leave a little to the home cook´s imagination, but I suppose it makes it all the more adventurous!

    • sircserreb says

      Thanks…I finally got that cookbook and I can´t wait to try it all – except maybe the water buffalo scalp. I´d eat it in a restaurant…but at home, I´m not sure.


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