Yunnan Ghost Chicken Recipe

Yunnan Ghost Chicken Recipe

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This recipe is featured in our Lijiang Naxi Cuisine Cooking Class & Market Visit which is available daily, and is also included in our Eat Your Way Through Yunnan’s Tea & Horse Caravan Road from Dali to Lijiang 8-day trip. Come join us!

The Story of Yunnan Ghost Chicken

Yunnan is a province rich in diversity – culturally, geographically, and culinary. The southern portion of the province borders Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam, and many of the dishes in the region are influenced with SE Asian flavors. Ghost chicken is no exception, as it originated in Jinpo near the Myanmar border. This recipe is from Fancy, a local Naxi minority woman who runs a cooking studio in Lijiang. You can join a cooking class with her on our 8-day trip from Dali to Lijiang!

There are many legends about this dish (locally known as guǐ jī). One says that ancient fortune-tellers used chicken bones to scatter on the ground to look for formations in order to tell the future. So as not to waste the meat, they mixed it with local herbs and spices to make what resembles a chicken salad. Other legends say that chickens were most often sacrificed to keep ghosts happy, but again, the meat couldn’t be wasted afterward.

This simple recipe is very tasty and a perfect appetizer for any occasion. 

Recipe Notes

For vegetarians, the meat can be replaced with your favorite salad ingredients – you’ll still get the same great flavors. We recommend a medley of sliced carrot, cucumber, and tofu skin.

This recipe uses two types of cilantro/coriander. Vietnamese cilantro (photo above) refers to “Persicaria odorata” which is also sometimes referred to as Vietnamese mint. It is commonly found in Asian grocers, but can be omitted if you are unable to locate it.

Serves 2

Prep Time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Total Time: 30 mins


1 boiled chicken thigh or boiled chicken breast, about

16g / 1 Tbsp diced red chili (bird eye chili is recommended)

9g / 1/2 Tbsp finely diced ginger

3g / 3/4 tsp finely diced garlic

10g  cilantro

10g Vietnamese cilantro

5g fresh mint

1/2 lime juice

3.5g / 1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)

1.5g / 1/4 tsp sugar


  1. Tear or shred the chicken into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Transfer to a plate and enjoy!

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