Qi Guo Ji, which means steam-pot chicken, is from Yunnan province. Preparation is simple: chicken, dried dates, ginger, spring onion and a bit of rice wine and water are put in an earthenware soup pot. The pot is sealed tightly and steamed for three to four hours. The result is a nourishing and flavourful chicken broth.
The dish became popular in Southern Yunnan during the Qianlong Period of the Qing Dynasty. According to local folklore, in Jianshui, a city famous for pottery production, a craftsman named Yang Li invented a unique steaming pot with a small chimney in the middle. The chimney helps circulate the steam inside the pot, cooking the chicken while sealing the flavours inside. Many reckon it is the design of the pot that gives the intense flavour of the broth. Interestingly, Chinese don’t recommend drinking chicken soup during a cold, because the chicken is said to trap the illness inside the body.
Where to eat it?
There is no better place in Beijing for authentic Yunnan food than the Chuan Ban restaurant, housed in Yunnan province’s “capital representative office”, Building 7, Huashi Beili, Dongqu, Chongwen District in Beijing, Tel: +8610 6711-3322.
Middle 8th Restaurant also serves some of the most traditional Yunnan cuisine: 1 Sanlitun Zhongjie, Chaoyang District in Beijing. Tel: +8610 6413-0629.
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