Famous dish in Shaanxi : Gourd Chicken

“Gourd Chicken” (Roasted Whole Chicken) originated in the Tang Dynasty but was improved and perfected by famous chefs over the following dynasties. The dish is cooked by blanching, steaming and frying a whole chicken in succession. Served in whole, the dish looks delicious and attractive. A flick of chopsticks can separate meat from bone. The chicken skin is crispy and the meat well cooked, giving off an intoxicating fragrance and a long-lasting aftertaste. With such the dish served on the dining table, the entire room smells good. It is known as the “first dish in Chang’an.”

An anecdote about the dish:

Reportedly, the gourd chicken was first cooked by the official chef of Wei Shi, the Minster of Rites during the reign of Emperor Tang Xuanzong. Extravagant and luxurious he was, Wei Shi was very demanding in food. One day, he asked his chef to cook a dish of crispy and tender chicken meat. The first chef fried the chicken and then put it into boiling water. As a result, Wei Shi thought it overcooked and the chef was severely punished. The second chef put boiling before frying, which did make it delicious, but Wei Shi thought the dish looked bad because the chicken was not served in whole. For that reason, the second chef was beaten to death. The third chef, learning a lesson from the previous chefs, tied the chicken up before having it boiled and fried. The chicken cooked this way was not only crispy and tender, but also looked good, just like a gourd, which explains why the dish is called “gourd chicken” by later generations.