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Jun 10, 2008 10:50 AM

Black whole chicken?

I've noticed this on sale in the fresh poultry section of a local Chinese supermarket. What's up with these birds?

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  1. The meat of the black-feathered, blue-skinned Silky chicken is considered to have medicinal and aphrodisiacal qualities. You point out your live chicken of choice and it's butchered right there. The skin really IS blue!

    1. They're known as silkie chickens. While the skin and bones are black, they've got white feathers. In Chinese culture, they're known as being good to nourish the blood. So it's given to a lot of women after they've given birth. The meat is really tough and sparse. So people generally make soups and stews out of it as opposed to making something like fried black chicken. It's also about twice the price of regular chickens.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Miss Needle

        There are also black-feathered ones. I see those most often in S.F. Asian markets. I wonder if the white one is the one given to new mothers. The Silky is a very attentive brooder and mother. I used to use them as my incubator chickens. Even the white ones have blue skin.

        1. re: fromagina

          The ones with black feathers are not skilly chicken. Miss Needle is correct that the feathers are white and the skin is black (not blue).

          I think you are talking about another kind of chicken.

          1. re: kobetobiko

            Yep.. not only are there Black Silkies, there are "Blue" Silkies! Some "fancy poultry " breeders call the black strain the Black Szechuan.

            1. re: fromagina

              Interesting stuff. Though the naked birds I saw were larger than 0.2 or 0.25 of "regular" size.

              1. re: mrbozo

                The black one shown in the photo was a regular-sized Szechuan Silkie. I didn't check to see if McMurrays sells the meat size. The ones I see in San Francisco are a bit more than twice the size of the little Silkie bantams I've had. The meat Silkie really isn't that big of a chicken compared to, say, the commercially raised Cornish crosses that will weigh 3 - 4 lbs at 8 weeks! I don't think those black Silkies would weigh more than 1 1/2 lbs and I bet they're older than 8 weeks. Hmmm.. I'm heading up to SF on the 19th.. maybe I'll get one and try it out. I'll report if I do.

          2. re: fromagina

            Interesting. I haven't heard of the black-feathered ones. But SF Asian markets tend to be a bit more diverse than NY ones.

          3. re: Miss Needle

            Miss Needle is absolutely right. The meat of black chicken is actually more flavorful and if you were to make soup out of black chicken, you can tell the noticeable difference in taste compared to normal chicken. It is believed to have a lot of nutritional values (in the Chinese medicine sense) and is often cooked with Chinese herbal ingredients or ginseng as tonic soups.

          4. Thanks to all for the informative replies. So, soup is the best option? Has anyone had it and what do you think?

            1. I was served this black chicken in a ginseng soup in Hong Kong for it's rejuvenating qualities. I'm not sure if it was the chicken or the ginseng that was supposed to help, but it was really good. They pointed out the live chickens in the market and they had long, fluffy white feathers.

              1. Makes great soup.

                Imparts a real earthy and woody flavor, that's a bit bitter but also subtlely sweet at the same time.

                Don't eat the meat -- too tough and sinewy.

                As others have said, it's supposed to be medicinal and very nourishing, esp. for nursing mothers.

                Literally translated, in Chinese they are described as "dirt chicken".