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Chinese Style Chicken Feet Recipe to Unleash Your Culinary Creativity

While it may seem like an unusual dish to those unfamiliar with it, chicken feet are actually a popular snack in many parts of China and Southeast Asia. In this article, we'll explore the history and popularity of chicken feet, as well as provide you with a delicious recipe for making your own Chinese-style chicken feet at home.

A pair of chicken feet simmering in a fragrant Chinese-style sauce, surrounded by traditional spices and herbs

Chicken feet have been a staple of Chinese cuisine for centuries and are believed to have originated in the Guangdong province of China. They are often served as a dim sum dish and are prized for their tender texture and rich flavour. While some may find the idea of eating chicken feet unappetising, those who have tried them know that they are a true delicacy.

Preparing and cooking chicken feet can be a bit of a challenge if you've never done it before, but with the right recipe and technique, you can create a delicious and authentic Chinese-style dish that will impress your friends and family. In the following sections, we'll walk you through the process of preparing, marinating, and cooking chicken feet, as well as provide you with some tips for serving and storing the finished dish.

History and Popularity

A sizzling wok cooks up a batch of Chinese-style chicken feet, surrounded by traditional spices and ingredients like ginger, garlic, and soy sauce

Chicken feet have been a popular delicacy in Chinese cuisine for centuries. They are a staple of dim sum dishes, which are small plates of food served in bamboo baskets. Dim sum originated in the southern provinces of China and was traditionally served as a snack or light meal in teahouses. Today, dim sum is a popular meal served in restaurants all over the world.

Chicken feet are a common ingredient in Chinese dim sum, and they are loved for their unique texture and flavour. They are often served in a rich black bean sauce or a spicy chilli sauce. The feet are first blanched in hot water before being marinated in the sauce for several hours. This process helps to tenderise the meat and infuse it with flavour.

In Chinese culture, chicken feet are believed to have medicinal properties and are thought to be good for the skin and joints. They are also said to be a natural source of collagen, which is important for healthy skin and hair.

While chicken feet may not be everyone's cup of tea, they are a beloved dish in Chinese cuisine. They are a testament to the creativity and ingenuity of Chinese chefs, who have found a way to turn an unusual ingredient into a delicious dish.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can try adding seafood to your chicken feet recipe. Shrimp or scallops are good options as they complement the flavour of the chicken feet. Simply add them to the marinade and cook them along with the chicken feet.

Preparing the Chicken Feet

Chicken feet arranged in a bowl with soy sauce, ginger, and spices, ready to be marinated for a Chinese-style recipe

Before cooking chicken feet, it's important to clean and trim them properly. Here's how to do it:

Cleaning and Trimming

  1. Rinse the chicken feet under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to trim off the nails and any rough patches of skin.
  3. Remove any excess fat or membrane with a knife or kitchen scissors.
  4. Cut off the tip of each chicken foot with a sharp knife.

Blanching

Blanching the chicken feet before cooking helps to remove any impurities and soften the skin. Here's how to do it:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Add the chicken feet to the boiling water and blanch for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken feet from the pot and rinse them under cold running water.
  4. Use a knife or kitchen scissors to remove any remaining impurities.

Seafood can be a great addition to your chicken feet recipe. You can try adding prawns or squid to the dish for a unique flavour. Simply clean and prepare the seafood as you would the chicken feet, and add them to the recipe during cooking.

Marinating and Seasoning

Chicken feet being marinated and seasoned with Chinese spices in a bowl

Creating the Marinade

To make the perfect marinade for your Chinese-style chicken feet, you will need to gather some essential ingredients. Soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, and spices like star anise and bay leaves are the main components of the marinade. You can also add seafood to the marinade to enhance the flavour of the chicken feet. Shrimp paste or dried shrimp are great options to consider.

To create the marinade, mix the ingredients in a bowl and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve completely. You can also use a food processor to blend the ingredients into a smooth paste. Once the marinade is ready, place the chicken feet in a large bowl and pour the marinade over them. Make sure that the chicken feet are coated evenly with the marinade. Cover the bowl with cling film and place it in the fridge for at least 2 hours. For best results, leave it overnight.

Applying Seasonings

After marinating the chicken feet, it's time to apply seasonings to them. You can use a mix of spices like five-spice powder and Sichuan peppercorns to add depth and complexity to the flavour. Alternatively, you can use a pre-made seasoning mix that is readily available in most Asian grocery stores.

To apply the seasoning, remove the chicken feet from the marinade and place them in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the chicken feet and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 45 minutes or until the chicken feet are tender. Drain the water and pat the chicken feet dry with a paper towel.

Next, heat some oil in a wok or frying pan and add the chicken feet. Stir-fry for a few minutes until they are crispy and golden brown. Add the seasoning mix and stir-fry for another minute or until the chicken feet are coated evenly with the seasoning. Serve hot with your favourite dipping sauce.

Seafood can also be used to complement the flavours of the chicken feet. For example, you can add some dried scallops or dried shrimp to the seasoning mix to give it a seafood twist. The addition of seafood will enhance the umami flavour of the dish and make it even more delicious.

Cooking Techniques

Chicken feet simmer in a fragrant broth with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce. The chef skillfully uses a pair of chopsticks to turn and coat the feet in the flavorful liquid

Steaming

Steaming is a popular cooking technique for chicken feet in Chinese cuisine. To steam chicken feet, you need a steamer and a wok. First, clean the chicken feet and remove the nails. Then, marinate them in a mixture of soy sauce, cooking wine, and sugar for at least an hour. Place the chicken feet in a heatproof dish and put it in the steamer. Steam for about 30 minutes until they are tender and fully cooked.

Deep-Frying

Deep-frying is another technique used for cooking chicken feet in Chinese cuisine. To deep-fry chicken feet, you need a wok and oil. First, clean the chicken feet and remove the nails. Then, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and let them dry. Heat the oil in the wok until it reaches 180°C. Add the chicken feet and deep-fry until they are golden brown and crispy.

Braising

Braising is a slow-cooking technique that is perfect for chicken feet. To braise chicken feet, you need a wok and a braising liquid. First, clean the chicken feet and remove the nails. Then, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes. Drain and let them dry. In the wok, sauté garlic, ginger, and green onions until fragrant. Add the chicken feet and pour in the braising liquid, which can be a mixture of soy sauce, oyster sauce, cooking wine, and sugar. Cover and simmer until the chicken feet are tender and fully cooked.

If you want to add seafood to the recipe, you can use shrimp or scallops. Simply add them to the braising liquid and cook them together with the chicken feet.

Remember to always be careful when cooking with hot oil and steam. Use a splatter screen when deep-frying to prevent oil from splashing, and use oven mitts or tongs when handling hot dishes from the steamer.

Serving and Presentation

A platter of Chinese-style chicken feet arranged with garnishes and served on a decorative plate

When it comes to serving and presenting your Chinese-style chicken feet, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, chicken feet are traditionally served as an appetizer or snack, so it's best to keep portions small and serve them alongside other dishes.

Accompaniments

To complement the rich, savoury flavour of the chicken feet, consider serving them with a dipping sauce. A popular option is a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and finely chopped green onions. You can also experiment with other sauces, such as a spicy chili oil or a sweet hoisin sauce.

In addition to sauce, you may also want to serve your chicken feet with other accompaniments. Steamed or fried rice is a great option, as is a selection of steamed or stir-fried vegetables. If you want to get a bit more adventurous, consider adding some seafood to the mix. Shrimp or squid can be a great addition to the dish.

Garnishing

To make your chicken feet look as good as they taste, consider adding some garnishes. Finely chopped green onions are a classic option, as are sesame seeds or chopped peanuts. You could also add a few slices of fresh chili pepper for a pop of colour and heat.

When it comes to presentation, you can get creative with how you arrange your chicken feet on the plate. Some people like to stack them up in a neat pile, while others prefer to arrange them in a more organic, scattered pattern. Whatever you choose, be sure to serve them with chopsticks to add to the authentic Chinese-style experience.

Serving and presenting your Chinese-style chicken feet is all about balance. Keep portions small, complement the flavour with a dipping sauce, and add some garnishes for visual interest. With these tips in mind, you're sure to impress your guests with your culinary skills.

Storage and Reheating Tips

A container of cooked chicken feet sits in the refrigerator. A person reheats them in a pot on the stove, adding soy sauce and spices

Congratulations, you have made a delicious Chinese-style chicken feet recipe! Now, you may be wondering how to store and reheat them. Here are some tips to help you keep your chicken feet fresh and tasty.

Storing

After cooking the chicken feet, let them cool down to room temperature before storing. You can keep the chicken feet in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. If you want to keep them for longer, you can freeze them. However, keep in mind that the texture may change slightly after freezing and thawing.

If you want to add some seafood to your recipe, you can try adding some shrimp or scallops. They will complement the flavour of the chicken feet and add some extra texture to the dish.

Reheating

When you're ready to eat your chicken feet again, you can reheat them in a few different ways. One option is to use a microwave. Place the chicken feet in a microwave-safe dish and heat them on high for 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to overheat them, as this can make the skin tough.

Another option is to use an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (180°C) and place the chicken feet in the basket. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until heated through and crispy.

If you want to add some more flavour to your reheated chicken feet, you can try brushing them with some soy sauce or oyster sauce before reheating.

In conclusion, storing and reheating your Chinese-style chicken feet is easy and straightforward. With these tips, you can enjoy your delicious dish again and again!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you prepare chicken feet for cooking?

To prepare chicken feet for cooking, you need to clean them thoroughly. Rinse the feet under running water and use a sharp knife to remove the nails. Then, blanch the feet in boiling water for a few minutes before rinsing them again with cold water. This will help remove any impurities and soften the skin.

What's the secret to a tender chicken feet dish?

The secret to a tender chicken feet dish is to braise them in a rich sauce for a long time. This will help break down the collagen in the feet, making them tender and succulent. You can also add some beer to the sauce to enhance the flavour and texture of the feet.

Can you recommend a good sauce to go with Chinese-style chicken feet?

A good sauce to go with Chinese-style chicken feet is a fermented black bean sauce. This sauce is rich in umami flavour and pairs well with the gelatinous texture of the feet. You can also add some seafood, such as dried shrimp or scallops, to the sauce to give it an extra depth of flavour.

What are the health benefits or risks of eating chicken feet?

Chicken feet are a good source of collagen, which is essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. They are also rich in protein and contain essential amino acids. However, chicken feet are high in cholesterol and may not be suitable for people with heart disease or high blood pressure.

How long should you cook chicken feet in a slow cooker?

You should cook chicken feet in a slow cooker for at least 6-8 hours on low heat. This will help break down the collagen in the feet and make them tender. You can also add some vegetables, such as carrots and onions, to the slow cooker to enhance the flavour of the dish.

What's the difference between braised and boiled chicken feet?

Braised chicken feet are cooked in a flavorful sauce for a long time, while boiled chicken feet are simply cooked in water. Braised chicken feet are more tender and flavorful than boiled chicken feet. However, boiled chicken feet are a good option if you want to make a simple and healthy dish.