April 27, 2017

(Really) Fresh Chicken

It’s Saturday afternoon, you need to figure out what you’re cooking for dinner and you’re craving some fresh chicken. REALLY fresh chicken. What to do? Hop on the No. 45 Metro bus and check out the live poultry markets in Chinatown.

There are two poultry places on North Broadway: Peking Poultry and Superior Poultry (the poultry is superior because it was clucking just a few minutes before you get there). Peking Poultry has a wider selection of meats, including chicken, duck, rabbit, pork, and fish in tanks, as well as fresh vegetables; Superior Poultry has doesn’t have pork, fish, or veggies, though it does have quail and pheasant. But which one you choose really depends on your level of squeamishness: Peking has you pick out the animal you want for dinner while it’s alive and breathing; Superior hands you an already dead-and-bagged bird. I’m a chicken (har, har) so I prefer Superior myself.

Chickens range from $8.25 to $9 each, which is a great price for a whole bird (and I do mean the whole bird—more on that later). Which chicken you choose depends on how you plan to cook it. Older (and cheaper) chickens are tougher and have a stronger taste, which makes them better suited for stewing. If you want to roast your chicken, pay the extra money for a smaller, younger bird, which is more tender and has a more delicate taste.

Once you get the chicken home you’ll have to let it sit in your fridge for a day so the rigor mortis subsides (I’m so not kidding…). Before you open the bag, be aware that Chinese cuisine makes use of every part of the bird. Like seriously, EVERY PART.

(This buying a chicken in Chinatown business isn’t for wussies).

Thankfully, they do gut the chicken for you and sawing off the head and feet isn’t nearly as hard you would think. If you have a particularly gutsy kid, get them to do it (fun family activity!).

And the chicken smells wonderful. It doesn’t have that slightly rancid smell that supermarket chicken can have. Very clean, very fresh. And very much worth the trip.

Superior Poultry
750 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 628-7645

Peking Poultry
717 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 680-2588

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About Alisa Rivera

Alisa is a writer whose work has been featured in the Oregonian, the Syracuse Post-Standard, Latina magazine and other publications. She has also had her short fiction published in the Berkely Fiction Review and Iris: A Journal About Women. Alisa and her husband, James Hightower, have been happily raising their son, Nathan, in downtown Los Angeles since 2008. You can learn more about Alisa's work at www.alisarivera.com.