In China, there are many dishes where the name originated from a folklore, legend, or story. Beggar’s Chicken (叫化鸡) is another dish with an interesting history. (Read my post about “Goubuli Baozi/Steamed Pork Buns” to learn about another legendary dish.)
Legend has it that a homeless, starving beggar had a chicken but didn’t have a stove to prepare it. Desperate for food, he came up with an idea. He killed the chicken and covered it with mud and baked it with fire…
A Qing-dynasty Emperor (乾隆皇帝) passed by. Attracted by the aroma of the baked chicken, he stopped and dined with the beggar. The Emperor loved the “Beggar’s Chicken” so much that it was added to the list of dishes served at the Imperial court. Hence, Beggar’s Chicken is also called “富贵鸡” (literally “rich and noble chicken”) in Beijing.
Beggar’s chicken calls for a stuffed and marinated chicken, sealed tight with layers of lotus leaf, parchment paper/wax paper, and mud. This unique cooking technique produces the most tender, juicy, moist, and aromatic chicken that is bursting with intense flavors. The original taste of the chicken is perfectly retained and trapped inside the chicken. The bones just fall off the chicken after hours of baking, and the lotus leaf lends the signature mouthwatering “fragrance” to the chicken. Unattractive–and even bizarre!–in its appearance, beggar’s chicken is a real Chinese delicacy that one should not miss out.
Click on the pictures above to view the step-by-step eating guide. Enjoy!
Made in China (Click on the link to read Travel + Leisure’s review)
2008 Go List
Grand Hyatt Beijing
1 E. Changan Ave.
- If you are in the San Francisco bay area, you can try Beggar’s Chicken at my Malaysian friend’s restaurant “Betelnut Pejiu Wu.” Call to reserve your bird.
- Other than Beggar’s Chicken, “Made in China” is also famous for its Peking Duck.
Betelnut Pejiu Wu
2030 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123