A steam pot is made of red clay and looks like an earthenware basin with a lid. In the center of the pot is a steam nozzle. Meat, herbs, and other ingredients are put into the pot to steam over heat. Kitchen paper or paste is used to create a tight seal between the lid and the pot. The difference between this and other steaming methods lies in the fact that no water is added to steam the food. The resulting broth comes from the meat and other ingredients and, therefore, is rich in nutrients. The chicken can be marinated before steaming, and excess water and blood should be completely drained, so as not to spoil the flavor.
The story goes that Yang went to great lengths to make the perfect steam pot chicken for the emperor, but when accused of deceiving His Majesty after his steam pot was stolen was nearly sentenced to death. Luckily, the emperor absolved him. On the back of Yang’s success, Fudeju Restaurant changed its name to Yang Li’s Steam Pot Chicken and the dish gained in popularity across Yunnan.