Once upon a time...there was a starving beggar who stole a chicken. The beggar was hotly pursued by the chicken's owner and in his haste he buried the chicken in mud near a riverbank to hide it. Later that night the beggar returned and retrieved the chicken, its feathers covered in mud. He started a fire of twigs and branches to cook the chicken. But not having any utensils he placed the entire chicken directly into the fire. A tight clay crust formed as the fowl cooked, and when the crust was cracked open the feathers came right off, exposing juicy tender meat and emitting an incredible aroma. The roasted chicken was so delicious he decided to start selling his creation to the villagers. Unbeknownst to him he had just invented one of the greatest culinary traditions of China.
(From the Red Cook blog)
More recently...there was a Dutch girl who went to have dinner with friends in the Made in China restaurant in Beijing. There, they ordered the Beggar's Chicken, a famous dish from Jiangsu province. The chicken was covered in a layer of clay and had to be cracked open with a hammer.
With great strength, the girl cracked open the crust.
More experienced staff came to the rescue.
An incredible aroma was emitted. Inside the crust, the chicken was wrapped in lotus leaves.
The girl enjoyed the food with her friends!
In het Nederlands: Laatst heb ik voor het eerst "Beggar's Chicken" gegeten, of zeg maar "Bedelaar's kip." Het verhaal gaat dat het gerecht ontdekt is door een bedelaar die zijn gestolen kip snel in de modder gooide om hem te verstoppen. Toen hij later de kip, met modder en al, op het vuur legde kreeg hij een heerlijk gare kip. Voor je kan eten moet je de droge modderkorst even met een hamertje opentikken. Deze avond was die eer aan mij!