Beggar's Chicken

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Beggar's Chicken (Chinese: 叫化雞; pinyin: jiàohuā jī) is a dish from Changshu, a city in China's Jiangsu province that is famous for its delicious taste. Beggar's Chicken is called "jiaohuaji" in the Changshu dialect. The chicken is stuffed, wrapped in clay, and roasted following a traditional Eastern Chinese recipe.[citation needed]


Many Chinese dishes have names adopted from folklore, legend, or story.

The unverifiable legend about this dish, is that a poor beggar lucked into a wild chicken (some say he stole it). But, because he did not want others to know he was cooking a chicken. He built a fire, then put the bird over the hot coals. Then, he covered the entire chicken with mud. Thus the chicken would cook with the smell being trapped in the mud, keeping his secret. Afterwards, the chicken came out to be extra tasty due to the trapping of its natural juices. However, the beggar's luck ran out when it came time to eat. A traveling noble smelled the chicken, and the beggar was kind enough to share it with him. The chicken was so good that the noble wanted to learn how a simple beggar made such delicious chicken. Eventually this cooking method made it all the way into the Imperial Court. [1]

Today, this dish is considered a staple of Chinese Haute cuisine. Now most often wrapped in lotus leaves and baked. To keep it more traditional some recipes do call for covering the lotus-wrapped chicken in clay[2] or a flour based dough[3] to ensure the sealing of the juices. Some still even do cook this dish outside with hot coals and covering the lotus wrapped chicken with clay or mud.

About 100 years ago, a small restaurant created a method to cook this kind of chicken and called it Beggar's Chicken.[4]


  1. ^ [1] Accessed March 21,2014
  2. ^ [2] Accessed 3/22/2014
  3. ^ [3] Accessed March 21, 2014
  4. ^ Beggar's Chicken. Foreigner CN. Accessed April 5, 2012.