Beggar's chicken - the emperor's own unhygienic dish (5 photos)

Category: Food, PEGI 0+
6 July 2024

In China, there is a traditional dish: the chicken is wrapped in lotus leaves, coated with clay and placed in the oven to simmer slowly. This dish is called jiao hua ji "beggar's chicken" or "beggar's chicken", a rather straightforward and offensive name.

Dirt on the right, bread on the left.

But its origin (like many things in China) has its own legend.

Where did this dish come from?

According to legend, one day a beggar stole a chicken. But it was raw, and there was no place to cook it; he had neither a saucepan nor a frying pan. Instead of plates, he used lotus leaves, so this time he wrapped the chicken in leaves, smeared it in mud and put it in a pit in which he lit a fire for warmth.

He built a fire in a dirty pit so that the farmer he had robbed would not see from the smoke that someone was cooking the food he had stolen. And in the pit, smoke creeps along the bottom, not giving away the fire.

This is chicken baked in a dough crust.

When he woke up in the morning and pulled out the chicken, he was shocked. The chicken was not a poor man's food, but tender and juicy, like the dish of kings. Emperor Hongwu was just passing by (it’s strange why emperors walk in all sorts of areas for homeless people). He shared a meal with this thief (again, why? But every self-respecting Chinese legend must have an emperor).

Similar to tandoor, but much, much deeper.

And he admitted that this dish was excellent, tastier than anything the emperor ate in the palace. From then on, "beggar's chicken cooked in mud" became part of the imperial menu.

The beggar's chicken is not the same anymore

Unfortunately, for reasons of hygiene, this chicken is increasingly rarely cooked in clay. It is replaced with a dough crust or a thick layer of foil, and it is simmered not in a fire pit, but in a convection oven. Which, of course, gives a completely different thermal effect and its own taste.

The most chic thing is to bake a chicken with its head, the Chinese love this

Only in small villages and vice versa - luxury restaurants still cook chicken covered with clay. And all because many guests did not like to eat meat that was literally served in dirt. Look at them, the emperor did not disdain, but these ones do!

Sold in stalls at traditional cultural festivals

Have you ever tried this? Here we only bake potatoes in the fire.

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