A whole deboned chicken (the phoenix) is stuffed with bird nest (the swallow,) and double-boiled in chicken stock—flavoured with Yunnan ham and conpoy—for two hours. The dish was inspired by another Chinese classic, Feng Tun Chi (凤吞翅), which dates back to the Han dynasty. Then, shark’s fin was used instead of bird’s nest.
Symbolising fertility, Swallow within a Phoenix was a staple item at wedding banquets in the ‘60s. However, it became elusive as the cost of bird’s nests skyrocketed over the years. Moreover, only a handful of chefs are skilful enough to debone an entire chicken and keep the delicate skin intact as it cooks.
Swallow within a Phoenix （经典凤吞燕）