Cooking with Pixian Doubanjiang: Erjie Tuding (二姐兔丁) Second Sister Rabbit Cubes
A Chengdu Hawker Original~~
Chengdu’s famous Erjie Tuding is based off a Sichuan 凉拌 (liángbàn)/cold-dressed dish traditionally eaten in the fall. It belongs to our reader-favorite Cooking with Pixian Doubanjiang recipe series, which highlights Sichuan doubanjiang cooking methods that are less well-known than classics like Mapo Doufu and Twice-Cooked Pork. If you’ve never thought of using doubanjiang in a cold dish, this is your sign!
There are several variations of Sichuan’s cold-dressed rabbit (凉拌兔丁, liángbàn tùdīng; also 麻辣兔丁, málà tùdīng), but the most famous is Chengdu’s 二姐兔丁 (èrjiě tùdīng), “Second Sister Rabbit Cubes.” In Chinese, 二姐/Erjie is the title of the second oldest sister in the family. The hawker who came up with this version of liangban rabbit was the second sister in her family, and the dish became known by such.
Ma remembers lining up for takeout bags of erjie tuding while working at the university. The hawkers tossed spices and dressings straight into the plastic bag, and you could eat that as a meal or bring it home to pair with the rest of dinner. It was equal parts affordable and delicious. You might recognize this dish yourself if you live near a Chengdu Taste in the U.S. and have been smart enough to order it!
Rabbits proliferate in the hilly country around Sichuan, so naturally rabbit dishes abound. Erjie tuding differ slightly from veggie liangbans and do require some advance prep, but the actual hands-on cooking time is minimal. The meat can also be prepared ahead of time.
Most liangban dishes fix up quickly and don’t require much cooking (if any), making them ideal for hot days or involved spreads.
This dish has bones. Rabbit is such a lean, compact meat that deboning the whole animal becomes more process than it’s worth. Outside of Asian and African cuisines, many people tend to view bones as a nuisance instead of an inherent part of meat dishes—so if you don’t like to 啃骨头 (kěn gútóu) or “chew on bones,” you might not appreciate this dish at first. That’s okay. It’s an acquired pastime: Enjoying bone-in dishes like rabbit is not about how quickly or easily something can be eaten.
When you ken gutou, you are literally sucking the marrow out of the bones. It’s a direct metaphor for sucking the marrow of life and the way Chinese people view food and commensality. Eating is an occasion to be savored, each component of a life-giving dish important, with nothing going to waste. In this way, even a small rabbit provides a humble meal—not unlike the Jade Rabbit itself.
Plus, honestly, the liangban sauce tastes so good you’d be loath to leave behind a single drop of flavor. When you smell this sauce, you’ll understand.
The prep, like with most quick-cooking Chinese recipes, is involved but straightforward. When time is not a luxury, I find the process meditative: Nothing is difficult, it just requires getting done.
Beginning with washing and drying the rabbit, chop the cleaned meat in half and add to a sauce pot that can comfortably hold the entire rabbit. A stockpot is not necessary. Wash and smash a thumb of ginger and add it to the pot, then add enough cold water to cover. The ginger and a final splash of 料酒 (liàojiǔ), cooking wine, help mediate the gaminess of the rabbit.
Skim off the scum that foams to the surface as the meat simmers. Once you’ve removed all the foam, you can let the rabbit finish cooking as you prep the other ingredients.
For toasted sesame seeds, simply dry-toast the seeds in a skillet over low heat while stirring frequently, about five minutes. They will turn a nice mellow golden tone and smell fragrant when done.
The doubanjiang should be minced briefly to break up any larger fava bean pieces.
When the rabbit is cool to the touch, chop it roughly into 1-inch cubes (you’ll need a meat cleaver or other knife intended to cut through bone). Then, heat a seasoned wok or skillet until hot and add 3 tablespoons of caiziyou, Sichuan’s signature roasted rapeseed oil. Fry the minced doubanjiang until fragrant and add the douchi, fermented black soybeans. Stir-fry 3-5 minutes until you notice the douchi shrink, stirring constantly so nothing burns. It should smell very fragrant by now.
At this point the rest of the rabbit dish is ready to toss together. Add the cubed rabbit and celery first, followed by the rest of the seasonings, reserving some sesame seeds, peanuts, scallions and 红油 (hóngyóu)/red oil for garnish. Our traditional Sichuan Chili Oil recipe provides the standard hongyou base, but if you really want to go for fragrance, give the aromatic version a try!
Serve alongside rice and other liangban favorites that won’t go cold while you eat around the bones, like Taylor’s Hot-and-Sour Eggplant Salad, the Málà Project’s Shang Xin Liang Fen and Michelle’s Crunchy Lotus Root Salad.
Cooking with Pixian Doubanjiang: Erjie Tuding (二姐兔丁) Second Sister Rabbit Cubes
- 1 whole skinless rabbit (we used headless + legless) about 500 grams/1 pound
- 1 thumb ginger, washed
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons 3-year aged Pixian doubanjiang
- 4-5 stalks celery stalks, washed and dried, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 3 scallions, washed and dried light green/white parts only
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 4 teaspoons Chinese light soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
- 1½ teaspoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon Sichuan ground chilies
- 1 teaspoon huajiao (freshly ground Sichuan pepper) see note
- 3 tablespoons roasted peanuts, divided
- 3 tablespoons caiziyou (Chinese roasted rapeseed oil)
- 2 tablespoons douchi (fermented black soybeans)
- hongyou (red oil from Sichuan chili oil) to taste see note
- Begin with washing and drying the rabbit. Chop it in half. Smash a thumb of ginger with the heel of your hand upon the flat side of a blade.
- Place the halved rabbit in a large sauce pot (stockpot is not necessary) with the smashed ginger and add enough cold water to just cover the rabbit. Add the rice wine and cook on medium heat until boiling, then lower to a simmer, about 10 minutes, or until you see foam. Skim off the scummy foam while simmering for another 10 minutes or until bubbles disappear. Continue simmering, covered, on the lowest heat possible for another 15-20 minutes. Check for doneness periodically toward the end. When rabbit is cooked through (about 35-40 minutes total, juice will run clear when poked with a chopstick; if using a thermometer, once internal meat reaches 160°F/71°C), remove from pot and set aside to drain and cool.
- While rabbit cooks, toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over low heat, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Set aside.
- Mince the doubanjiang on a cutting board until it resembles a smooth paste. Then, slice the scallions into slivers on the diagonal and do the same with the celery (see prep photo in post for walkthrough). Set aside.
- Once rabbit drains, hack into small 1-inch pieces (bone and all) with your butcher or bone-splitting knife. Set aside.
- Preheat your wok and add 3 tablespoons of caiziyou over medium-high heat. Add minced doubanjiang and 2 tablespoons douchi, then stirfry 5 minutes until douchi shrinks, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. It should be getting very fragrant by now!
- With the heat off, add the chopped rabbit back into the pan and toss to coat. Add the celery and toss again. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, white sugar, ground chilies, ground huajiao and half of the roasted peanuts. Mix evenly to distribute the sauces and spices. Transfer to a wide serving bowl and top with the scallions, toasted sesame seeds, remaining peanuts, a drizzle of hongyou and an extra dusting of huajiao if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Can this recipe be made with firm or extra-firm tofu instead of rabbit? I sure hope so, because it sounds delectable! If it can be done, could you please tell me how to prepare it? Please please please!
Hi, Hollis, thanks for reading. This recipe is for a specific Sichuan rabbit dish, but you can certainly freestyle if you’re so inspired. Just use the sauce and ingredient directions as a guide and you’ll have the same flavoring to mix up whatever you want. The tofu will probably taste best fried/pan-seared though. Let me know how it turns out if you make it!
hi Kathy- thank you for the recipe. I made it today with boneless chicken thighs, wish I had more routine access to whole rabbit here!!! btw- there is no mention in your formal recipe of when to add the toasted sesame seeds…just thought I’d let you know!
Hi Max, thank you so much for reading and sharing your feedback. I might make that myself soon! Fixed the recipe, appreciate you letting me know 🙂