Beggar's Chicken

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Beggar's Chicken (Chinese: 叫化雞; pinyin: jiàohuā jī; Changshu dialect: "jiaohuaji") is a dish from Changshu, Jiangsu province. The chicken is stuffed, wrapped in clay, and roasted. It can take 6 hours to prepare a single serving.[1]


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). Since he did not want others to know he was cooking a chicken, he built a fire and 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 tastier due to the trapping of its natural juices. However, the beggar's luck ran out when it was 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. [2]

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[3] or a flour based dough[4] 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".[5]


  1. ^ "Top 10 Food Cities". Youtube. Retrieved 13 February 2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ [1] Accessed March 21,2014
  3. ^ [2] Accessed 3/22/2014
  4. ^ [3] Accessed March 21, 2014
  5. ^ Beggar's Chicken. Foreigner CN. Accessed April 5, 2012.