Why the Chicken Crossed the World

Be it in our teriyaki, our katsu, our udon, or one of our other delicious dishes, chicken has a powerful presence in our Japanese restaurant in Seattle. It is a significant source of meat throughout Japan, not to mention the single most common type of poultry worldwide. But where did the chicken we all know and love come from, and how did it win such a strong foothold in so many culinary traditions?

The domestic chicken descended from a Southeast Asian bird called the red junglefowl. This bird was originally domesticated in India around 3,000 BC. Ancient Chinese records show evidence that it was first introduced as a food in China around 1,400 BC, and it continued to spread throughout Asia from there along with much of China’s culture. Well loved for its easy availability and neutral taste, the bird was one of the most important proteins throughout the Middle Ages for much of the Eurasian continent, and has remained popular to this day.