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May 11, 2002 03:47 PM

Chinese Black Chickens

  • t

I have been seeing black chickens around NY chinatown lately. What do they taste like? Any different from regular chickens? Any special ways to prepare them?

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  1. the--

    Every time I've had black chicken it was prepared as a great it's hard for me to say how the chicken ITSELF tastes. Also, it looks really really strange - another factor that makes it hard to compare. I'd like to say that it's more tender and flavorful, but, again, that could just have been "set and setting" as Huxley used to say.

    Best black chicken dishes I ever had were at Sweet and Tart in Flushing (sorry to be NYC-centric on the General Topics board). But if I had a blindfold on, and if good regular chicken were swapped in, would I have noticed? Not sure.


    7 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Are we talking black-feathered chickens, or black-fleshed chickens here? In China I saw some huge, fluffy black birds that looked like the chicken's answer to the standard poodle. Are these the critters we're talking about?

      I didn't get to taste those, as far as I know. I was only 11 years old at the time, and I didn't speak Chinese very well, so it's possible that I did without realizing it. However, I do remember that the seamstress who fitted my for a dress kept huge black chickens in her shop. It felt weird to strip down to my underwear in front of them. They seemed more alert than normal chickens, and , well, more /critical/ somehow.

      1. re: Lindsay B.

        yup, all black. Black flesh. So weird, you at first think you're eating bony mushrooms or something. Until you realize it tastes a lot like chicken.

        "They seemed more alert than normal chickens, and , well, more /critical/ somehow. "

        Right! That was what I was straining to express. They taste a bit more critical! : )


        1. re: Jim Leff

          LOL... Well I will have to pick up some of these critical and alert chicks... I mean chickens... sounds like some hounds... and see what I can do with them... so far all the recipes I find focus on the health factor... I am more concerned about the flavor factor so I am glad to hear that they just might be tasty... as well as looking like bony mushrooms... I wonder if the gravy from them will be blackish blue like octopus ink...?

          1. re: the rogue

            Well JF aka Rogue I hate to disappoint you but they seem to produce normal colored gravy! I suppose you could doctor it up.

            By the way, the ones I see here on the hoof have white, skinny little ostrich like feathers and a "do" of feathers on their head that would make Rod Stewart proud!

            peace jill

          2. re: Jim Leff
            Mary Shaposhnik

            Arguably, I had such a blind-taste test. Got my first black chicken travelling in Yunnan last year, through a point-at-plates mishap in a Dai restaurant--we pointed at a steaming bamboo log, and for some reason I assumed it would be pork because I had heard about pork being steamed in a bamboo log. We got our steaming log, spooned some of the very light, fragrant broth (not so golden as yellow chicken broth, but not black) on our rice, and gnawed curiously at the hideous gray-black hacked pieces of bone and meat. We quickly figured out it wasn't pork because pigs just cannot have these kind of bones; I thought maybe it was some kind of ultra-delicate and non-fishy tasting fish, but that didn't seem right either; and it tasted very light, but not overtly like chicken (and besides, we'd never heard of a black chicken so had no reason to suspect). Then my boyfriend reached in for another piece, and out of the cauldron pulled a huge black chicken leg and foot, black toes all curled up and steaming, just as a gray heart came floating to the surface and other features began to surface. Mystery solved. Once I knew it was chicken, it tasted more like chicken--the power of suggestion.

            Encountered a few more black chickens in Yunnan, but our culinary PTSD from that surprise black claw, and my terror at finding the whole head, made me tread carefully. But I can definitely see how the very light broth is the ultimate curative chicken soup.

            1. re: Jim Leff

              My grandfather raised a large brood of black chickens
              years ago. They were perfectly good, but nobody would
              buy them. The skins were dark blue and people thought
              they were crows. In another experiment, he tried raising bison. They were so big they would simply walk
              through fences as though they weren't there. He got
              tired of having to round them up miles from home and
              repairing all the damage to his neighbors' property.

              1. re: Jim Leff

                I had it in a soup once, it's the only time a tried was an amazingly flavorful soup, but I can't guarantee that this is because a black chicken was used. I guess my memory is flawed, because I remembered it having black skin but not flesh.

          3. Well Rogue,

            We have black chicken frequently in a simple soup that only seems to contain a bit of root vegetable and most of the chicken...including head and comb. It is miraculous! The resturant cooks it slowly in a small earthen pot that is rested inside a huge pot outside the place, so the heating is slow and surrounding like it would be in a oven.

            I have been told that the Chinese beleive that this chicken, as with most other foods, has some medicinal value, but I don't know what it is.

            The meat seems sweeter and pinker even if it is completely cooked.

            sorry, not much help. they ARE more expensive than "regular" chickens, and here in China that is a big deal.

            peace, jill

            4 Replies
            1. re: jill

              You're posting from China? Wow, that's so cool!!!

              Would you mind introducing yourself, saying where you are, etc etc? I'm sure a lot of us would love details (but please start a new thread, unless you live among black chickens).


              1. re: Jim Leff

                Oh, I am blushing. I will post on not about food..yeah!


              2. re: jill

                The medicinal value is that these chickens help to tonify the "blood". It's used a lot after childbirth. Black chicken is great for women as well as for people who are overworked, older, etc. I put "blood" in quotes, because this is looking at it from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, as opposed to a Western way. People who lack "blood" tend to have fatigue, brittle nails, dry hair, dry skin, pale face, dizziness. They may also have conditions such as heart palpitations and bad memory and restless sleep.

                1. re: Jennifer J

                  I did made myself some soup last night that I think some of you would have liked. I took the black chicken and hacked it into small sections (feet included!). Fried an onion with some garlic and sesame oil and added the chicken, along with some chopped ginger, lemongrass and chilis. Added a little shoyu and sugar which I cooked down. I also found at the market a soup pack which was basically cooked pig's ears, snouts, meat, tongue and what I assume was blood, along with a few scallions and herbs. I sliced all that up and added it along with water and brought all this to a boil. I then threw in some bok choy for the last couple of minutes along with a packet of Vietnamese beef meatballs which I bought.

                  It was delicious. Not convinced by the chicken itself. It was good, but I think a regular chicken would have worked just as well. Seems to be all about the novelty of the colour really, but $7 for a tiny little 1 pound chicken is a bit much.

                  Wow...first post in this thread in 6 years!

              3. black chicken taste wonderful and NOT at all like regular chicken. The meat never falls apart like a regular chicken you would find in the supermarket.

                It's popular in herbal medicine recipes where the chicken and herbs are simmered/stewed/cooked for 8+ hours.

                I'm eating some now and it's delicious.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ktitian

                  Agreed. We had a black chicken soup in Lijiang, up in the Himalayas, that was purported to be supremely healthful. The soup featured caterpillar fungus, the fruiting of a fungus which is grown on live caterpillars, also supposed to be very healthy.

                  I remember the stock as being the best we have ever eaten, but the bits and pieces of bird in the stock were a nuisance because of the little bones you had to work around. As well, we had no idea of what to do with the feet and head. Other diners just spit their bones out on the table. It had a plastic cover which was turned into a bag to gather all the leftovers and plates and cutlery for sorting later in the kitchen.

                  BTW- the black chicken breed is a silkie, and they are quite common in the Asian markets around Toronto.

                2. Black chicken - the kind that's black all the way down to the bone - is stringier and tougher than regular chicken and it has a bit of a gamier taste (for lack of a better description. I wouldn't mistake it for regular chicken in a blind taste test, but the taste is pretty close.

                  I use them for soup and that's pretty much it. It's good for when you're sick.

                  1. The black chickens are a breed known as Silkie. They're used in herbal soups and are supposed to be good for your blood. My mom tends to use them for ginseng soup. They're not very meaty and the meat is more chewy/gamey since they're mostly raised free range. I find the soup to be richer tasting than when my mom uses regular chicken bones for the soup.