For some people, chicken feet or chicken claws are deemed as an odd part of animals, which are usually discarded. But for some other people, chicken feet are an important ingredient, which can be made into various delicacies. And for me, I belong to the latter one. My favorite chicken feet dish is dim sum chicken feet, I love that fabulous softness and savory taste. Here is the ultimate guide on how to make dim sum style chicken feet at home.
- Why are so many haters?
- Chicken feet also have lovers
- What’s the taste of chicken feet
- Purchasing tip
- How to prepare chicken feet for cooking
- How to eat chicken feet
- Dim Sum Chicken Feet
- Ingredients breakdown
- How to reheat dim sum chicken feet
- What to serve with
- An Air-frying method instead of deep-frying.
- Other dim sum recipes
- Other ways of cooking chicken feet
Why are so many haters?
People from the US or Europe don't eat chicken feet because they may think that chicken feet are too dirty to eat. Also, people don’t know how to deal with chicken feet. Usually, you can find that chicken feet are made into dog treats. Another reason may be that chicken feet are not as meaty as other parts of chickens.
Chicken feet also have lovers
However, chicken feet are greatly beloved by people from other parts of the world. The Chinese gourmets even grant an auspicious name to chicken feet, that is “phoenix paws”. And chicken feet are cooked into cold dishes, snacks, soups, and main dishes in China. And in South Korea, people invent Korean-style spicy chicken feet. In other Asian countries, like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, dishes made of chicken feet are also quite common and popular. Even in Mexico, chicken feet are a popular ingredient, and they are mainly made into stews and soups.
What’s the taste of chicken feet
The edible parts of chicken feet consist of the skin and tendons, with little meat. The distinct gelatinous texture of chicken feet provides you with an abundance of collagen. For most dishes, chicken feet are cooked into a soft and tender texture, and absorb the flavors of seasonings or spices. Especially when chicken feet are used for making soup, after being simmered for one or two hours, the chicken feet will almost fall apart when being picked up, and you even don’t need to chew anymore. A mouthful of gelatin will break up in your mouth with the fresh flavor of the soup.
When you go to the market to purchase some chicken feet, you may find that the yellowish hard skin of chicken feet is already removed. Fresh chicken feet should have white and glossy skin and also they should be in a thick and elastic texture. If you touch the chicken feet and find that the surface of the chicken feet is a little sticky, it shows that these chicken feet have been stored for too long and are not fresh enough for eating.
How to prepare chicken feet for cooking
Before you cook chicken feet, you should clean them in the following steps:
- Remove the yellowish outer skin (ignore this step if the skin is already removed). You can put the chicken feet in boiling water for one or two minutes and then transfer them to ice water. In this way, it will be easier for you to get rid of the tough outer skin.
- Use a kitchen scissor to chop off the nails of chicken feet.
- Chop chicken feet in half or small pieces as you like if you intend to make pickled chicken feet or cold chicken feet. Just keep them as a whole if you intend to make soup or other dishes
How to eat chicken feet
If you have never eaten chicken feet before, here are some tips for you:
- It is hard for you to eat chicken feet with knives and forks. The chopsticks are highly recommended. And if you don’t like using chopsticks, just use your hand with a disposable glove.
- You can take your first bite from the toes of chicken feet. Bite one from one and the next step needs the cooperation of your tongue and mouth to separate the little bones and the skin. Spit the bones out and just enjoy the remaining part in your mouth. And I think the most important tip for you is that do not to swallow the little bone of chicken feet.
Dim Sum Chicken Feet
The Chinese name of this dish is tiger skin chicken feet(虎皮凤爪), and there is a similar dish named tiger skin green peppers. Tiger skin is named because of the wrinkles on the surface.
The making process is relatively complex. We need at least four steps: boiling-deep frying- soaking- braising or steaming. No matter how complex the dish is, there is a big group of fans. Of course, they are available at the dim sum restaurant. I have tested the recipe three times but cannot get the texture enough satisfying, but the tastes are really wonderful. So I decided to post it on the blog just for home cooking reference. You can follow this to make super easy dim sum style chicken feet at home. It is such a great success!
There are some ingredients that need to pay attention to for this dim sum style chicken feet.
- Chicken feet - I use around 500g chicken feet, which may range from 12 to 14 ones.
- Fermented black beans - also referred to as Chinese fermented black beans are the essential ingredient for this dim sum style chicken feet. It has a complex and unique flavor, salty, and earthy with a strong aroma of fermented products.
- Aromatics - ginger and garlic can help to improve the aroma.
- Chili peppers- chili peppers are optionally but traditionally a small amount is added to add a hint of hotness to the dish.
- Chili paste - I add chili paste to the sauce. Totally optional.
How to reheat dim sum chicken feet
You can use a microwave to reheat it. But the most ideal way is to steam them. Set up a steamer and steam for 10 minutes. Steaming can make the taste even better, so it is 100% ok to make a larger batch.
What to serve with
Eating chicken feet may be quite time-consuming. So you can serve this with tea for more leisure time. Since it is quite savory in taste, you can also serve it with soups, or congee.
Prepare the chicken feet
Cut the claws off and any dirty parts on the chicken feet. You can choose to keep them as whole pieces or cut them into smaller ones.
Blanching and dry
Then bring enough water to a boil in a large pot, add scallion, ginger, and cooking wine. Cook the chicken feet for around 2 minutes.
Transfer out, wash carefully.
This is a very important step to avoid the oil splattering out during the cooking process. If time is enough, I will recommend you place the chicken feet for air frying to make sure there is no water on the surface.
Heat oil in a wok and add the chicken feet into deep fry until it turns dark golden brown. It is extremely important to make sure the water content is removed by the deep-frying process so the tiger skin can be achieved. It may take around 12 to 18 minutes.
Transfer the chicken feet into iced water. And soak for around 1 hour.
Boil to strong the tinger skin
I learn this from a Cantonese chef, if you further cook the soaked chicken feet, the tiger skin can be strengthened. So place the soaked chicken feet in boiling water, and continue cooking for 8 to 12 minutes based on how soft you want them to be.
Prepare the sauce and coating
Add dou-chi, garlic, ginger, and chili paste if using a small amount of oil. Fry over a small fire until aromatic.
Pour in starch water. Let it simmer for a while.
Add blanched chicken feet.
Coat well, and serve hot. You can make larger batches and then re-steam them for the next serving.
An Air-frying method instead of deep-frying.
If you don't want to use the deep-frying method, you can use an air-fryer to help. Spread some oil on the drained chicken feet. Put into an air fryer preheated at 375°F. Leave to fry for about 10 to 12 minutes until the skin is completely dried. I have made the test with the air-frying method, it works perfectly.
Other dim sum recipes
- Steamed sausage buns
- Lo Mai Gai (steamed sticky rice in lotus leaf)
- Steamed Ribs with fermented black beans
- Water chestnut cake
- Hong kong style egg tart
- Custard bun-milk yolk buns (奶黄包)
- dim sum style shrimp- har gow (虾饺)
Dim Sum Chicken Feet
- 500 g chicken feet , 12 to 15 ones
- oil for deep frying
- iced water for soaking the chicken feet
- 1 thumb ginger
- 2 scallions
- 1 tbsp. Shaoxing wine
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. fermented black beans
- 2 fresh Thai chili pepper , finely chopped(optional)
- 1 inch root ginger , finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ tsp. sugar
- ½ tbsp. chili paste or doubanjiang , optionally
- ½ tsp. dark soy sauce
- 1 cup warm water for braising
- ½ tbsp. corn starch
Prepare the chicken feet
- Cut the claws off and any dirty parts on the chicken feet. You can choose to keep them as whole pieces or cut them into smaller ones.
Blanch and dry
- Add water in a wok, place scallion, ginger and cooking wine. Cook the chicken feet for around 2 minutes after the water boils.
- Transfer out, wash carefully. Then dry completely. This is a very important step to avoid the oil splattering out during the cooking process. If time is enough, I will recommend you place the chicken feet for air frying to make sure there is no water on the surface.
- Heat oil in a wok and add the chicken feet into deep fry until it turns dark golden brown. It is extremely important to make sure the water content is removed by the deep-frying process so the tiger skin can be achieved. It may take around 12 to 18 minutes.
- If you don't want deep-fry, you can choose to air fryer the chickn feet. If you don't want to use the deep-frying method, you can use an air-fryer to help. Spread some oil on the drained chicken feet. Put into an air fryer preheated at 375°F. Leave to fry for about 10 to 12 minutes until the skin is completely dried.
- Transfer the chicken feet into iced water. And soak for around 1 hour.
Boil to strong the tinger skin
- I learn this from a Cantonese chef, if you further cook the soaked chicken feet, the tiger skin can be strengthened. So place the soaked chicken feet in boiling water, and continue cooking for 8 to 12 minutes based on how soft you want them to be.
Prepare the sauce and coating
- Add dou-chi, garlic, ginger, and chili paste if using a small amount of oil. Fry over a small fire until aromatic. Add in dark soy sauce and light soy sauce.
- Pour in starch water. Let it simmer for a while.
- Return the chicken feet. Coat well, and serve hot. You can make larger batches and then re-steam them for the next serving.
Other ways of cooking chicken feet
Red braised chicken feet
The chicken feet are simmered with soy sauce and spices usually including cinnamon, star anise, and scallions. The marinated chicken feet are stunning with a gorgeous brown color and a salty flavor. The smell of this dish is incredibly appetizing due to the functions of several spices.
Pickled chicken feet
The pickled chicken feet can seem like a cold dish or a perfect snack for you when you are watching TV. You can often buy packaged pickled chicken feet from an Asian chain store. The chopped chicken feet are pickled with the rod chillis. This snack is a little bit spicy, however, you will be attracted by the spiciness and the chewy taste of the chicken feet.
Chicken feet stock
Also, chicken feet can be used to make stock due to the abundance of gelatin. Usually, this stock is stewed with pig bones, carrots, and corn. This stock is quite fresh and sweet.
In Korea, chicken feet are always made into Korea-style spicy chicken feet, which is quite similar to the chicken feet pot in Chinese cuisine. The main difference is the sauce. The Chinese chicken feet pot uses bean paste to make the sauce, but the Korean chicken feet pot uses Korean chili paste.
In Thailand, chicken feet are also served in various dishes, such as in a version of chicken green curry.
Soy sauce chicken feet
Soy sauce chicken feet are a popular Chinese snack. The feet are usually simmered in a broth made with soy sauce, sugar, and spices. It's a great snack to share with friends and family or as an appetizer before dinner. This is widely loved by children.
Air-frying chicken feet
If you find that the cooking method of chicken feet is quite complicated, you can try some innovative cooking methods, like using an air frier, which will help you to make the cooking a bit easier.
Holly | Beyond Kimchee
Oh, my!!! I actually never tried chicken feet and never wanted to try either, but your chicken feet actually look delicious. I think the sauce makes the difference. I will still need some courage to try though.
Yes, this one is not easy but really yummy. My husband ate them up without leaving me one just in 20 minutes as snack. He strongly ask to make this again next day. But I need some maybe courage and relax!
Try them they are delicious! Lots of bones but they are so wor
Haha, thanks for the feedback, Chris!! Lots of bones, I totally agree. However this cannot stop the foodies enjoying them. Happy cooking ahead in your kitchen.
a lot of fine bones yes, but moving the chicken feet around in your mouth and then spitting out the bones one by one adds to the delight of eating this dish. good exercise for french kissing.
Oops, I have not figure out that function. Thanks for the feedback Rody. I am thinking about the scene and it really keep me laughing for couple of minutes. Thanks.
Trick Is to fry till pretty crunchy looking and plumps when braising in sauce. You'll probably think you ruined it by frying long but you'll be surprised. I've been making this 30plus years
I actually tasted some at a dim sum restaurant once. I had expected something chewy and soft, but they were quite stiff and hard. Is that supposed to be like that?
Braised version is much chewier and harder than steamed version. If you hope them to be softer, soak them for a long time for example overnight and use steaming instead of braising.
I will follow your blog from now on, I miss Chinese food too much!
Greetings from Germany and keep up the awesome work, you're also a great photographer!
Thanks Irina for stopping by and leaving me such a nice note. 也谢谢你的信任。 Wish you happy cooking ahead.
The first time I had Dim Sum I must have been 16 - I had chicken feet - I will never forget the experience. Thank you so much for conjuring up that magical moment!
I eat dim sum around 22 years old and now I really fall in love with those yummy small dessert. I can image your feeling for your first dim sum time.
Will have to try your recipe for chicken feet. I have tried pig trotters but not into them. But hey Im willing to try anything once. Regards Peter
Great peter, look forward to your good news. This has been one of the most popular dish in my family. Personally I do not make it frequently because of the complex steps.
I believe is better "To steam" than to stream.!!!!
IN ENGLISH:" 1. Cut the claws off and any dirty part on the chicken feet. And then cut the main large bone off
and divide the chicken palm into two parts. If you feel this part too difficult, you can skip it.
But you will need more oil in the deep frying process.
2. Bring enough water to a boiling in a large pot, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar
(to avoid breaking of the skin) and 1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar (to avoid darkened color). Cook the
chicken feet for about 2 minutes. Transfer out and drain completely.
3. Add 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce and marinate for around 30 minutes.
4. Fill one third of a wok or deep frier with oil and heat it over medium heat to 180 C. Add the chicken
feet and fry them until golden and dry. If your chicken feet are not completely dried, the oil might
sparkle. Remember to use a long chop stick to turn the chicken feet and cover the fryer with a lid.
If you did not divide the chicken feet into two parts, then deep fry them in small batches and add
slightly more oil. Just make sure that they are well deep-fried.
5. Transfer the feet to a large bowl with iced water. Soak the chicken feet for 3 to 4 hours to achieve
the tiger skin effect.
6. To steam: transfer the chicken feet to a steamer. Prepare all the ingredients for the steaming sauce.
Steam at first the chicken feet for 15 minutes and then evenly pour on them the steaming sauce.
Continue to steam for another 30 to 40 minutes.
7. To braise: mix all the ingredients used for steaming with another 1 cup of water. In a deep pan
simmer the chicken feet with the sauce for 15 minutes and then turn up the fire to thicken the sauce.
8. Serve hot or reheat it for later serving.
Thanks Bruno. updated!
Don't be a dick Bruno. That was completely uncalled for. I'm pretty sure that you were the only one that had a problem with the spelling and sentence structure. The rest of us are intelligent enough to understand exactly what she was conveying in the recipe. This is one of the best chicken foot dishes I've had in many years. Thank you for posting it Elaine.
Thanks Jonnie for the sweet words. They can really make me the year!! As I non-English speaker, it is quite hard for me to guarantee nicely written sentences, but I tried my best to make myself understood. I am so glad that you love the recipe. Happy cooking in the coming 2016.
Is the frying necessary (what's the reason for it)? Can you skip to braising it?
Frying and soaking, on one hand, can make the wrinkled skin. On the other hand, this process can help the chicken feet to absorb the sauce. But it is ok to skip the step and braise the chicken feet directly after blanching in pure water.
Your recipe was great! I loved it! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Elaine, you have done a superb job of sharing your Chicken Feet Dim Sum. Your explanation was simple and easy to understand. I made this recipe better by adding one sliced 3/4 ripe tomato and added a few drops of sesame oil. Also cut some cucumber slices and mama-mia ...I nearly more bit my fingers instead of the chicken feet. The flesh came out very easily from the bones and I think that is because of the sudden shock for the chicken feet to fry hot and immediately soak a long time in iced water.. I am a Malaysian Indian and just love Chinese dishes. Thank you, Elaine.