Grilled chicken: facing in or facing out?

When it comes to placing a chicken on the ancestral altar during traditional rituals like anniversaries or Lunar New Year, many people wonder where to position it and whether it should face inward or outward.

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Feast worshiping on holidays, death anniversaries cannot be without boiled chicken. Many people believe that preparing the offering chicken as desired will somewhat help them welcome a good and beautiful new year. The selection, boiling, and placement of the offering chicken are always done much more carefully than boiling chicken for daily consumption to show the respect of the host family to their ancestors and deities.

Also because of being cautious, many people are interested in meticulous details such as when to place the offering chicken and when to place it facing outward, where to place the offering chicken, what is different for the ancestral altar, the God of Wealth, the Earth God…?

When to place the offering chicken facing outward or inward?

Whether the offering chicken is placed facing outward or inward depends on the location where the chicken is placed, on the altar or outside, and also depends on the time of conducting the ritual.


When to place the offering chicken facing outward or inward is a concern for many people. (Photo: Hạo Nhiên)

Ancestral worship

According to some cultural experts, the offering chicken placed on the altar should face the incense burner. This position is considered as “the chicken knows to crow, knows to sing, is worshipping”. Offering chicken for ancestral worship should be placed in a kneeling position, with wings naturally extended and mouth open. Placing the chicken facing outward, although it looks better, does not have spiritual significance, meaning that the chicken does not worship, so there is no respect.

However, many other people believe that whether the offering chicken is placed facing outward or inward is not too important, whichever direction the head faces is acceptable.

Offering chicken for New Year’s Eve: facing outward or inward?

According to folk beliefs, each year, Heaven’s Court changes all officials to take care of the lower realm. Offering for New Year’s Eve is to see off the officials managing the old year and welcome the officials managing the new year. Therefore, it is necessary to place the chicken head facing the street to welcome the New Year’s managing officials.

In addition, placing the offering chicken outward also has the meaning of inviting the sun to shine into your house so that everything is bright, fresh, and favorable in the new year.

Placing offering chicken for the God of Wealth, the Earth God

Similar to how the offering chicken is placed on the ancestral altar, the offering chicken on the Earth God and the God of Wealth altar should also be placed as a whole on the plate (the liver, heart, and chicken feet should be placed underneath the chicken). The chicken’s mouth should hold a red rose, and the head should face the main entrance.


The offering chicken placed on the altar should face the incense burner. (Photo: TL)

Tips for boiling beautiful offering chicken

To have a perfect offering chicken, you should pay careful attention starting from the stage of choosing the chicken. You should choose a male chicken, a native chicken weighing about 1.5kg after slaughter. Do not buy a chicken that is too big because it will be harder to make it beautiful when arranging the feast, the meat will also be tougher.

The offering chicken must be healthy, lively, shiny feathers, bright red crest, yellow skin, small legs, and swollen breast. A chicken with these characteristics not only has firm meat but also has a more beautiful shape after boiling and arranging on the feast.

When bringing the chicken home, do not immediately process it, untie the leg, release it into the coop or cage so that it can move around for half a day or at least a few hours to ensure blood circulation, avoid the situation where the boiled chicken’s leg becomes dark due to blood congestion at the tied area.

With the offering chicken, you cannot slaughter it as you would for frying, frying, or ordinary boiling. You must specifically slaughter it so that you can create a beautiful shape and avoid skin shrinkage. Cut off the leg from the joint to avoid skin shrinkage when boiling, causing cracks on the thighs.

To create the shape of a squatting chicken, take a sharp knife and cut on both sides of the chicken’s neck, tucking the wings in through these two channels. This is the step that requires carefulness and skillfulness so that the wings are not bent, broken but still face out towards the mouth. If you like the shape of a flying chicken, gently bend the two wings back, tie the joint of the two wings together (moderately tight to avoid creating marks or tearing the skin after boiling).

Rub turmeric powder over the entire surface of the chicken, leave it for 5 minutes before boiling to create a beautiful yellow color. Place the chicken in a pot, abdomen facing down, pour in cold water, boil with high heat. Add a few slices of ginger, a little dried shallot pounded, scallion, a little salt and seasoning powder… with the purpose of eliminating odors and enhancing sweetness.

When the water boils, reduce the heat to avoid chicken skin cracks due to strong boiling, boil for about 7 minutes (skim off any foam if available to make the chicken skin shiny, smooth), then turn off the stove, cover the pot for another 15 minutes for the chicken to continue cooking until it is well done without cracking the skin. Use a thin skewer to stab the chicken’s thigh, if no red liquid comes out, it means the chicken is done.

Scoop the chicken into a pot of cold water to cool quickly, making the skin crispier. When the chicken is slightly cooled, you can apply a little cooking oil mixed with turmeric powder on the outside of the skin to create a beautiful shiny yellow color.

According to VTC