Rabbit head or "Tu-toe" is an all time favorite for people living within Sichuan province of China. Locals in Sichuan province eat so much of it that, heads have to be imported from neighboring provinces and even internationally to keep up with the hungry consumer's demand. So if you make your way to Chengdu, the panda capital of China. You truly wouldn't be experiencing Chengdu's flavorful cuisines if you passed this dish up. So ask around, and find it because there's so much more to it than just a spicy rabbit head!
Living with a Chinese host family could possibly be the most authentic way to experience the local lifestyle. That was something I definitely got to enjoy while living in Chengdu. Eating Chinese food every meal of the day and eating my family's favorite dishes. It just so happened that rabbit head was the dish my family had loved the most! So I ended up eating it at least once a week, twice if I got lucky!
My family along with all other Sichuan locals are proud of this sought after snack. Typically eaten as a late night snack, my Chinese host family found it appropriate to eat it anytime of the day, so we had enjoyed them around the clock.
The spicy and rich flavor of the marinated rabbit heads are usually eaten with plastic gloves to prevent ones hands from getting covered in rabbit head marinade . However a seasoned veteran will opt out of using the gloves and grapple the skull with their bare hands. While the process of eating these delicious treats is quite messy, there is a significant amount of labor involved just to eat it. From severing the jaw to eat the succulent cheek meat, slurping out a cooked eyeball to shattering the skull to slurp out the brains. Though it may sound like a lot of work just to eat food, locals have told me they actually enjoy all the tussling required to eat this snack, it is seen as a form of entertainment and a way to socialize.
Eating rabbit head is such a complex task that there are numerous steps the locals follow to enjoy the delicacy. 1. Pull skull apart. 2. Pull the lower jaw apart again, eat the tongue first then eat the cheek. 3. After finishing eating the meat on the back of the skull, split the skull apart and eat the rabbit brain. 4. Use your fingers to pick out the eye meat.
So next time you are in Sichuan province, don't be shy and be sure to give this local snack a try. I promise you wont regret it!