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Beggar's chicken (叫化鸡)

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Beggar’s chicken (叫化鸡) is a stuffed and marinated chicken wrapped inside layers of lotus leaf, parchment paper/wax paper and mud, then baked on fire for as long as 3-4 hours. Because the chicken is wrapped inside clay, the full flavor is retained. When the crust is cracked open, the bones just fall off the chicken after hours of baking and the lotus leaf gives the chicken its signature mouthwatering aroma.

There is an interesting story behind this dish. Legend has it that, during the Qing Dynasty, a homeless, starving beggar had stolen a chicken and buried it in mud near a river bank to hide it. Later that evening, he retrieved the chicken covered in mud. He started a fire to cook the chicken. But not having anything to clean and prepare the chicken, he placed the entire chicken covered by mud directly into the fire. The baked chicken was so delicious that he later started a business selling his baked chickens.

Beggar's chicken is a well known Chinese delicacy. Due to its long cooking time, many restaurants require advanced reservation for this dish.

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