Youlong Xi Feng

Youlong Xi Feng

(Swimming Dragon Playing with Phoenix)


Emperor Wuzong of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), named Zhu Houzhao, was a clever ruler and led several successful battles against Mongolian troops. He was the second monarch after Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty to personally participate in the war on the frontier.

Zhu Houzhao spent a lot of time feasting, and he even had wild animals such as leopards and tigers captured and reared for fun and excitement.

He liked to go out of court incognito and visit different places. One day, he went to a town called Meilong, and learned that a woman named Fengmei (literally Phoenix Sister) and her brother Li Long (Dragon) possessed extraordinary cooking skills.

After he arrived at their bistro Zhu Houzhao was astonished by Fengmei’s beauty and the dish she served. Tasting it, the emperor was truly impressed by the combination of flavors, and granted it the title “Youlong Xifeng” (Swimming Dragon Playing with Phoenix). Fengmei followed the emperor back to the imperial palace and became his concubine. The dish was officially listed on the menus of the court.

Fengmei won her man’s heart through his stomach. Let’s see how she did it.

First bone a pullet and shred the flesh. Dip the shredded meat into a batter of egg and flour. Deep fry them and place them in the center of a serving dish. Then slice some squid and flash-fry them, setting them around the meat. You can also use other recipes, since outside the court, the ingredients vary and they can be prepared differently too. For example, in Northeast China, sea cucumbers, young chicken and ginseng from the Changbai Mountains are used. But the name and its auspicious meaning have been passed down intact.

Follow the steps below.

1. Preparing: Clean a pullet, blanch it and some sea cucumbers in hot water. Then immediately put the chicken in cold water to cool it, and drain the sea cucumbers. Dice the peeled ginger and pound it till it gets soft. Cut the onion stalks into small sections. Wash the ginseng.

2. Cooking: Heat up some lard in a frying pan for a short while, then add the ginger and green onions, and stir fry. When an aroma arises, add chicken stock and bring to a boil and heat until the chicken becomes tender.

3. Presentation: Remove the chicken, sea cucumbers, and ginseng from the broth, put them into a chafing pot with a warming function to simmer at a low temperature. Add blanched flowering Chinese cabbage. In a few moments they will be ready to serve.

This delicious and nutritious dish is a great choice during autumn or winter months.