In China, there are many dishes where the name was originated from a folklore, legend, or story. Most of them are rich in folk culture. The beggar’s chicken (叫化鸡) is a typical dish with a great tradition of folklore. Also known as Jiaohuaji in Chinese pinyin, the beggar’s chicken is quite famous in east China, especially in Hangzhou and Shanghai.
The chicken is stuffed, wrapped, and roasted in this traditional Eastern Chinese recipe also this dish is very popular with Far Eastern gourmets. |
An Origin of Beggar's Chicken
People trace to the source of Hangzhou's "Beggar's Chicken" and find a story. It happened long time ago. The federal dynasty imposed heavy tax on civilians, and people were deprived of everything. Family broken up, they strayed everywhere as beggars.
One day, a beggar was floating in Changshu of Jiangsu Province, cold and hungry. Little by little, he couldn't stand up and fainted. His fellow sufferers were trying to save him. They collected wood and burned it to warm him up. One fellow sufferer took out the only remained chicken and prepared to cook for him. But without any tools to cooking, they were very worried. Suddenly, one of them got an idea. He suggested wrapping up the chicken with slush, and putting the mud pie into fire to bake. They continuously collected wood and baked mud pie. Finally, when the chicken was fully cooked, they began to knock open mud. To everyone's surprise, the feather was also falling off with mud, and the chicken smelled very nice. The aroma attracted all neighbors around. They came and couldn't stop praising the unique cooking style and the unique taste.
Later, Louwailou absorbs this cooking experience and makes some improvement. They takes "Yue Chicken", Shaoxing's Wine and the lotus leaf in West Lake as the material. First, they kill a fresh "Yue Chicken" and clean it, add all kinds of spices, stuff condiment in chicken's stomach, then bind it with West Lake lotus leaf, wrap it with a kind of mixture made by Shaoxing wine, salt water and mud from wine jar, finally bake it in steady fire for three to four hours. The mud pile is opened in front of guests. Because the chicken is cooked in a sealed envelope, the original taste is perfectly kept, and with the flavor of wine penetrating into chicken, you will feel a fragrance coming when opening the mud. Thus this dish is full of not only nutrition but also sentiment. That's why when tourists come to Hangzhou, they all want to taste this traditional and famous dish.
The Dish of Beggar's Chicken
1 dressed tender hen (about 750 grams or 1.65 lb), 100 grams (5 1/2 tbsp) soy sauce, 50 grams (3 1/2 tbsp) cooking wine, 20 grams (4 tsp) salt, 15 grams (1/2 oz) five-flavor power, 50 grams (3 1/2 tbsp) cooking oil, 3 grams (1/10 oz) each of scallions and ginger, both finely cut, 2 pieces of star anise, 150 grams (0.33 lb) minced meat, 50 grams (0.11 lb) each of shrimps, diced ham, diced mushrooms and diced winter bamboo shoots, 10 grams (2 tsp) sugar, 150 grams (0.33 lb) pork fat, 4 lotus leaves, 3,000 grams (6.6 lb) mud from the bottom of a lake or a pond and 25 grams (1 2/3 tbsp) sesame oil.
1. Cut off chicken feet and make a small cut 3 cm (1.2 inches) long under the left wing. Remove the inside organs through the opening. Break the bones of the wings, legs and neck. Put it in a basin, add 75 g or 3 quarters of the soy sauce, half of the cooking wine, 15 g (3 tsp) of salt and five-flavored powder, and marinate for 1 hour.
2. Heat oil in the wok to 110-135 degrees Celsius(230-275 degrees Fahrenheit). Stir-fry the scallions, ginger and star anise, then add the minced meat, shrimps, diced ham, mushroom and bamboo shoots, the remaining soy sauce, cooking wine, salt and sugar, and quickly stir to make the stuffing. When this cools off, insert it into the chicken through the cut under the left wing. Place cutoff chicken head where the cut is under the left wing. Wrap the chicken tightly with pork fat and then lotus leaves, and tie it up into oblong shape with hemp rope.
3. Add water to the mud and spread the mud out on a piece of cloth. Now surround the chicken and lotus leaves with the mud-covered cloth and wrap it up tightly. Finally remove the piece of cloth.
4. Roast the chicken for about 2 hours over a high heat, and then continue to cook it for 1 hour over a medium heat. Now crack open and remove the mud. Open the lotus leaves and put the chicken on a plate. Rub it with sesame oil. One can also provide a specially prepared wooden hammer to allow the diner to crack the mud into pieces.
Key to success: The chicken skin should be kept whole without cuts. It must be well-cooked.
Features: Specially prepared, the chicken is soft, tender and slightly salty.
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