Beggar’s Chicken

Ken Tan, Executive Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake
Photo by: Four Seasons

Beggar Chicken
SERVES 6

Ingredients for Beggar’s Chicken
1, 3 lb (1.4 kg) whole fresh chicken, deboned
3 large dried lotus leaves
1 piece fresh ginseng with root

Ingredients for Chicken Stuffing
2 tbsp (30 ml) cooking oil
7 oz (200 g) pork belly
2 oz (60 g) sliced Yunan cured ham or Parma prosciutto ham
8 medium dried shitake mushroom, soaked in water, then drained
¾ cup (185 ml) diced onion
2 tbsp (30 ml) light soya sauce
1 tbsp (15 ml) Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxin)

Method:
1. In a wok, heat oil then toss together remaining ingredients.
2. Continue cooking until pork belly is done. Set aside to cool.

Ingredients for Marinade
3 cups plus 3 tbsp (800 ml) Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxin)
1 ¼ cup (310 ml) dark soya sauce
2 cups (500 ml) hoisin sauce
1 ¼ cup (310 ml) light soya sauce

Method:
In a pot, combine ingredients together and bring to a boil. Set aside to cool.

Ingredients for Cooking Clay:
9 lb (4 kg) non-toxic pottery clay
2.2 lb (1 kg) fine salt
1 sheet 8 ½ x 11 inches (21 x 28 cm) paper

Mix the clay with salt in a bowl until into a dough ball. Add water if needed–do not make the dough too soft or it will be hard to handle.

Method:
1. Stuff the chicken and place it on the first lotus leaf with breast side up.
2. Slowly and carefully pour the marinade on all sides of the chicken and pour the remaining marinade over the chicken. Place the fresh whole ginseng on top.
3. Fold up the lotus leaf over the sides and wings of the chicken onto the breast, then fold the other sides of the leaf to cover the head and tail of the chicken.
4. Flip the wrapped chicken over, place it on some plastic wrap, and continue folding the lotus leaf.
5. Flip the wrapped chicken over and place it on another lotus leaf. Repeat the folding process.
6. Flip the chicken again and wrap it with a third leaf using the same folding technique. The chicken should now be completed wrapped. Tie the wrapped chicken tightly with butcher’s string.
7. Wet the paper to wrap the lotus leaf more easily around the chicken.
8. Cover the entire chicken package with a layer of clay about ¼ inch (.5 cm) thick.
9. Bake the chicken in a pre-heated 265◦F (130◦C) degree oven for 3 hours.

To Serve:
Place clay wrapped chicken onto a plate and crack the clay to unwrap the lotus leaves. Served the chicken with lotus leaf at base of platter.

Interested in the story behind the legend? Read more about Beggar’s Chicken.

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