In Mandarin, chicken (鸡) is a homonym for lucky (吉), and thus an auspicious dish to Chinese diners. There’s even a saying, “无鸡不成宴”, meaning that a banquet can’t be called so if chicken is not served.
This dish is a quintessential favourite in Cantonese banquets, and consists of pieces of de-boned chicken sandwiched by Yunnan ham (金华火腿) before they are dry-cured—a method dating back to the Tang dynasty (唐朝) (618–907 AD).
It gained a following in Singapore during the 1950s, especially at Cantonese weddings. As other Chinese dialect communities were not accustomed to the flavour of Yunnan ham, an alternative version, Yu Lan Ji (玉兰鸡), was offered using Western ham instead.
Steamed Chicken with Yunnan Ham and Oyster Sauce (经典金华玉树鸡)