Beggar's chicken: An unforgettable dish in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

By Dang Hanh, Thanh Nien News

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Wrapped in a thick layer of clay and baked over a charcoal fire for one to two hours, beggar’s chicken tastes good enough to satisfy even the most demanding palate.
The dish got its name, goes folklore, because a group of beggars were so hungry one day that they stole a chicken from a farm and ran to a deserted field to cook it.

A finished dish of beggars' chicken, a popular dish in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Photo credit: Depplus

But there were no vessels, spices or even water to wash and dress the chicken. So they put the chicken whole, feathers and all, into some clay dug up from the field and baked it over a fire made of twigs.
Nowadays, with the dish becoming very popular in the Mekong Delta, its preparation is a little less primitive: The cook disembowels the chicken, removes its organs and washes them before putting them back in.
However, modern cooks still skip the depluming. But once the baking is done, they only have to prise the clay off, and it takes away all the chicken feathers with it, leaving behind the greasy yellow skin.
The smell of clay adds to the delicious dish, which goes perfectly with a pinch of salt and garden chili and a bottle of rice wine.
It almost makes one feel the life of a beggar may not be too bad.

All you have to do is place your chicken in some clean clay

The cooking takes 1 - 2 hours

The layer of clay becomes dry and solid after being baked. The chicken is well done.

When the clay is broken off, you can see your promised dish inside.

The smell of baked clay and the pure taste of the chicken are unforgettable.

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