Rabbit and herb dumplings with mushrooms

Serves 4-6

Although it's the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, it isn't easy to actually get your hands on one in Soho, as I found out when trying to buy some rabbit for this recipe. Luckily, we had a few rabbit's legs at the restaurant.

Peter Gordon suggested that I blend some of the flowering garlic chives into a dumpling paste which is exactly what I've done, and a very good idea it was too.

For the dough

80-100g Chinese chives or garlic chives
275g plain flour
250g water

For the filling

The back legs from 2 wild rabbits, boned
2tsp sesame oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A piece of root ginger weighing about 30g, scraped and finely grated
300ml chicken stock
2tbsp rice wine vinegar
1tsp cornflour
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp chopped Chinese chives or garlic chives, finely chopped
1tbsp chopped coriander
6-8 fresh shiitake with the tough stalks removed and quartered
15g black fungus, soaked in warm water for an hour, trimmed and cut into rough 1-2cm pieces
Other Asian fungus if you prefer, such as king oyster or inoki
1tbsp groundnut oil

To make the dough, put the chives in a blender with the water and blend as finely as possible, then strain in a fine strainer over a bowl to catch the liquid. Bring the liquid to the boil, then mix in a bowl with the flour and the green pulp to a smooth dough. Add a little more hot water if the mixture seems dry, but it should be soft-pastry or bread-dough consistency. Knead the mixture on a floured worktop for 7-8 minutes, then return to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, dice the rabbit as finely as you can with a sharp knife. Heat a tablespoon of the sesame oil in a heavy-based saucepan and fry the rabbit, garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes on a high heat, lightly colouring it. Add the chicken stock and rice vinegar and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes. Dilute the cornflour with a little water and stir into the rabbit with 1tbsp of the soy; continue simmering for a few minutes until the sauce is sticky and just coating the rabbit. Remove from the heat, add the chives and coriander and leave to cool. Knead the dough again for about 5 minutes, then form into a long roll about 25cm long. Cut the roll with a sharp knife into 18-20 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it on the floured worktop, then roll them out into rough circles about 6cm in diameter and store on a lightly floured tray; cover with a tea towel until you are ready to use them.

Put a heaped teaspoon of the filling into the centre of each circle, dampen the edges with water and roll one end over the filling, just overlapping it. Press each end to seal it, then trim any excess dough so you have little rectangular dumplings.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the dumplings and then simmer gently for 7-8 minutes and drain them carefully in a colander.

Meanwhile, heat the rest of the sesame oil in another frying pan and fry the mushrooms on a low-ish heat for 4-5 minutes, turning them as they are cooking until tender; then add the rest of the soy and simmer for another 15-20 seconds. To serve, spoon some of the mushrooms onto a serving plate, arrange the dumplings on top, then spoon a few more mushrooms and the juices on top.

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