In the early Qing dynasty (清朝), a beggar in the Jiangsu (江苏) province was gifted a raw chicken. But without utensils to cook it, he wrapped the chicken with mud and baked it in a naked fire. Scholar Qian Muzai (钱牧斋), who happened to be in the vicinity, was so mesmerised by the aroma that he later got his servant to replicate this cooking method but seasoning the chicken first. The resulting dish was so delicious that the technique gained popularity in the province.
In 1883, the dish was updated when a chef from the famous restaurant San Jing Yuan (三景园) in Changshu (常熟) stuffed ingredients into the chicken carcass. He also infused the meat by baking the chicken in urns used to keep Shaoxing wine. It is now the standard recipe for Beggar’s Chicken, which was also officially recognised in the 1980s as part of Jiangsu’s food heritage.
At Dragon Phoenix, we mix Chinese wine into the mud in replacement of the urn. A pre-order of 48 hours in advance is required.
Beggar’s Chicken (古法叫化鸡)