Home - T Singapore

First Glance at Chef Kirk Westaway’s Rabbit Canapé

By Guan Tan

Minced rabbit meat seasoned with garam masala, wrapped in thin rice tuile, deep fried, topped with sweet coriander cream cheese and spring onions.
 
Pham Quang Tung
Minced rabbit meat seasoned with garam masala, wrapped in thin rice tuile, deep fried, topped with sweet coriander cream cheese and spring onions.

The menu at JAAN, which secured its first Michelin-star last July, renews every three months. Its Spring menu – Rabbit Spring Roll, St. Vincent Asparagus, Scallop and Mussels, Scottish Lobster, Cannon of Lamb, and Pear & Ginger Tart are morsels of memories from Chef Kirk Westaway’s childhood in Devon, England. 

Lunch service was concluding, and the 32-year-old came striding down the walkway against a picturesque skyline of Marina Bay. The entourage quickly followed behind him, and shuffled through two doors camouflaged within the stark walls into the kitchen. Westaway leaves briefly, appears with a rabbit in hand. He placed it on a white chopping board, and explained that these were farmed rabbits sourced from Lyon, France. 

Pham Quang Tung
 

“This comes with the head off. When I get them in Devon, [hunters] come illegally to the back of the restaurant with the back of the car open. [The rabbits still have] their hair on, are warm, bleeding. Sometimes you get wild deers…we give them 100 pounds, ‘Cheers mate!’ And for a week, to intensity flavours, we drain out the blood. We’re in the countryside so these things are normal to the people in the area,” he recalls fondly. 

He tugs at the legs, “What they do is run around all day, and do what rabbits do best…Rabbits are pretty similar to chickens. They’ve got the drumstick, the small wing tip, the breast, the back.” Westaway is preparing his rabbit canapé, albeit different from what he would do back in Devon. 

Pham Quang Tung
 

In England, especially the midlands where hunters are prevalent, the older generation enjoys meat aged for a few weeks. The resulting pheasant, grouse, rabbit, or deer tastes intensely gamey. "It's a family dish. If you were to go to a pub or restaurant in Devon, we have rabbit pie or rabbit stew, very nice. If you were at a semi fine-dining restaurant with some rabbit, [they] take a little piece of loin, and roast it in bacon or parma ham....Ideally – the ribs, you take these tiny little ribs with the part with meat. And one little rib per person is pretty fun to look at."

Here in Singapore he doesn't age nor serve rabbit in whole cuts. Westaway instead decided to make a small, friendly minced rabbit spring roll canapé to pique local tastebuds.

Pham Quang Tung
 

“A lot of chefs here – Malaysian guys, Singaporean guys they take rabbits as pets. And they tell me they do not eat rabbit, they won’t touch it. [I've been in] Singapore for five years, and I thought I’ll avoid it.” But Westaway felt it was time to revisit a familiar ingredient from home, whilst introducing a new flavour to his diners.

 

Pham Quang Tung
 

On designing flavours and dishes, Westaway reveals, “I’ve got a little mental checklist in my head for every dish – is it sweet? Is it savoury? Has this got salt? Has this got crunch? Has it got a bit of warmth?” For this minced rabbit canape, he threw in a tinge of warmth with curry spices, texture with thin rice tuile, and finally moisture with dollops of coriander yoghurt. “It’s cooked, sweet, spicy. It’s nice, it’s crunchy, it’s got acid from the yoghurt." He looks up and smiled, "All the boxes are ticked!" Here, Westaway shares a simple recipe to the rabbit – or chicken – canapé, best served before meals and shared with friends and family.

Pham Quang Tung
 

Rabbit Spring Roll


1. Chicken Mix

500 grams Diced White Onion
50 grams Chopped Ginger
50 grams Chopped Garlic
100 grams Diced Tomatoes
10 grams Cumin Powder
5 grams Turmeric Powder
50 grams Tamarind Paste
1 kilogram Minced Chicken Thigh
1 Egg, Beaten
10 pieces Spring Roll Skin
Fresh Vegetable Oil

Sweat onions in a heavy-bottomed pan until translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and ground spices, cook for two minutes. Then incorporate the tomatoes and cook for another two minutes.

Add tamarind paste and finally the minced chicken, and cook for ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

When mixture has cooled, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Then roll mixture into elegant cigars with the spring roll skin, seal the edges with a beaten egg.

2. Yoghurt Mix

200 grams Greek Yoghurt
20 grams Chopped Corriander

Mix together. Season with salt pepper.

3. To Finish

Fry rolls in very fresh vegetable oil at 170°C for two minutes, ensure colour is even all over. Season lightly after cooking. 

Serve immediately, with a bowl of the coriander yoghurt to dip in.

4. Garnish

Spring Onion
Julienne Chrysanthemum Flowers
Lime Zest
Lime Juice

Serve warm.

 

Chef Kirk Westaway's Spring menu is available at JAAN from now till June at SG$158++ for a 6-course set menu, Monday to Friday.