Enjoy this chicken, stuffed, wrapped in clay-like dough, and roasted
Serves 4
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The Chinese Beggar’s chicken is anything but scanty, contrary to what its name suggests. While the name of this dish is surrounded by various tales, the fact remains that the chicken is cooked tender and aromatic – the process of which involves stuffing, wrapping in clay and baking or roasting to a light sheen of brown.


  • 1.5 kg chicken
  • 3 shallots
  • 2.5 cm piece green ginger
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 tbsps dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp water
  • ¼ tsp five spice powder
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce, extra
  • 2 tbsps oil


  • 2 tbsps oil, plus extra
  • 1 kg cooking salt
  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1½ cup water, approximately

To make the dough, place unsifted flour and salt into bowl; mix well. Gradually stir in water. Mix to a firm dough using your hands, a little extra water may be needed. Do not have dough too soft or it will be hard to handle.


Place two very large sheets of aluminium foil on the table, brush top sheet well with extra oil. Place the chicken in the middle of foil. Place roughly chopped shallots, sugar, peeled and sliced ginger, soy sauce, sherry, water and five spice powder in a bowl and mix well.


Rub chicken all over with extra soy sauce, then rub with the 2 tbsp oil. Rub well into the skin. Pull skin at neck end down under chicken, tuck wing tips under chicken and over neck skin.


Carefully pour soy sauce mixture into chicken cavity, holding chicken up slightly so that no sauce runs out. Secure end of chicken with small skewer. Wrap aluminium foil around the chicken and secure like a parcel.


Roll dough out to approximately 1 cm thickness, so that it will completely encase the chicken. Fold dough over the chicken. Press edges and ends together.


Place chicken into lightly oiled baking dish. With wet fingers, smooth out all joins, making sure there are no holes in the pastry, for the steam to escape. Bake in a hot oven for 1 hr. Reduce heat to moderately slow, cook another 3 hrs. Remove chicken from oven, break open pastry clay with mallet or hammer and remove. Lift foil-wrapped chicken onto serving plate, and carefully remove the foil.

TIP The 1 kg cooking salt in the dough recipe is quite correct; it does not influence the taste of the chicken ­just ensures that the dough bakes rock-hard as protection for the chicken during the long cooking time.

Photo: bauersyndication.com.au

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