Begger's Chicken

Begger's Chicken

Begger's Chicken
Beggar’s Chicken

Legend has it that this renown dish was invented by a homeless beggar who stole a chicken from someone’s farm.

The starving beggar was hotly pursued by its owner. In his haste, he buried the chicken in the mud near a riverbank to hide it from the owner. Later that night, he returned and retrieved the chicken whose feathers were covered in mud. He started a fire of twigs and branches to cook the chicken. But without any utensils, he placed the entire chicken directly into the fire.

As a result, a tight clay crust formed as the chicken was cooked. After the crust was cracked open, the feathers came right off the chicken, exposing juicy tender meat and emitting an incredible aroma. The roasted chicken was so delicious he decided to start selling his creation to the villagers. With that, he had just invented one of the greatest culinary traditions of China.

Beggar’s Chicken originated in the Hangzhou area in Zhejiang province and can be found in many of its restaurants. Because of the laborious and lengthy cooking process, most restaurants required advance notice to order. If you ever find a restaurant that serves this dish and you wish to order it be sure to call ahead.

The Recipe

You Will Need
  • 1 (4 lbs.) whole chicken
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine or Amontillado sherry
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 110 g lean pork, cut into cubes
  • 8 finely sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • for the dough covering:
  • 600 g flour
  • water
  • 1 rolling pin
  • 1 bowl
  • 1 baking tray
  • 1 frying pan
  • 1 small mixing bowl
  • aluminum foil or roasting bag
  • 1 spoon

The Preparation

Step 1: Preheat the oven

Set the oven to 200ºC (400ºF).

Step 2: Marinate the chicken

Mix the dark soy sauce, wine, half of the oil, a little of the shredded ginger & spice and the spring onions in the bowl. Spread this mixture all over the chicken and let it marinate for 1 hour.


Step 3: Make the stuffing

Heat up a little of the oil in a frying pan and add the pork. Fry it till nice and crispy.


Then add in the mushrooms, prawns, onion, the rest of the ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, and pepper. Cook over a moderate heat for a few minutes.

Step 4: Stuff the chicken

After a few minutes of cooking, take the saucepan off the heat and drain away any excess oil if necessary. Then open up the necks of the chicken and put in the mixture.

Step 5: Wrap up the chicken

Wrap them tightly in aluminum foil or place them in a roasting bag and close tightly to prevent the juices from leaking.

Step 6: Make the dough

Put the flour in a bowl, gradually, stir in the water and mix until it is a firm dough ball.

Step 7: Roll out the dough

Once mixed, roll out the dough to around 0.5 cm in thickness so that it is big enough to completely cover the chicken.

Step 8: Cover the chicken

Fold the dough over the chicken and press the edges and ends together. Add a little water to make the dough stick.

Step 9: Cook the parcel (dough wrapping chicken)

Place the parcel on a baking tray. Check that there are no holes in the dough or at the joins for the steam to escape. Now place in the oven and cook for 3 hours.

Step 10: Break, open and enjoy

After 3 hours in the oven, take out the parcel. Crack open the dough (not meant to be eaten) and discard. Cut open the roasting bag or the foil. And tuck in.


jiào  huà  jī
叫    化   鸡        Beggar’s  Chicken               n.
mǐ jiǔ
米 酒                rice wine                                  n.
zhī má yóu
芝 麻 油           sesame oil                              n.
jiè cài
芥   菜            mustard green                         n.

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