Traditional Chinese Name: 雞腳 (jī jiǎo)
Nature: Slightly warm
I know! I know! It’s the feet of CHICKEN! Like the feet they walk on. Yah, trust me. Being Canadian born, I had some issues reconciling this when I was a child, but once you taste all the tastiness that chicken feet can come with and you get over the weirdness of it, it’s an amazing delicacy and ingredient to be used in dishes, dim sum, soups, stews, and all sorts of Chinese cooking. The best part, this ingredient is packed with a healthy amount of collagen. Case in point when you use this in soups for a long boil, the soup actually thickens!
And I get this question quite a bit: “How do you eat chicken feet?” You basically have to take bites out between the bones, clean off the skin and cartilage and whatever little meat there is and spit out the bones. There’s really no other way to eat this. 🙂
What is chicken feet?
Literally, the feet of the chicken. They are usually sold in bulk at the supermarkets or wet marts and can buy the amount you’d like.
My mom told me a story about being an immigrant Chinese back in the 1970’s that chicken feet were almost unwanted parts of the chicken in the supermarkets (unlike chicken breast) and she could buy them by the pound for pennies. It’s since the Chinese have come in droves that the demand for chicken feet have gone up and well, now, it’s still cheap, but not for pennies. Gotta love economics.
How do you prepare them?
For use in soups, I will usually blanch ALL and ANY meats in a pot of slightly salted water.
For chicken feet, I will rinse in cold running water first and it’s your choice whether you want to chop off the nails or not. Apparently, if you chop off the first nail (at the first knuckle), some of the oils inside the feet are easily released into the blanching so that it doesn’t go into the soup.
I leave chicken nail care to you to experiment with 🙂
And when your soup water boils, just drop in the blanched chicken feet. Depending on how soft you like them will then dictate how long you boil them for. On average, I boil them for about 2 hours to really soften them (I like them falling off the bone!).
Where can I buy it and cost?
- You can purchase these from most Asian supermarkets prepackaged or in bulk
- They are usually purchased fresh
- And of course, they usually come with your whole chicken (in Chinese supermarkets)
- Chicken feet are an amazing source of collagen!!
- They are slightly warming because chicken is, but the amount is almost insignificant (unless the whole soup is just full of chicken feet!)
- They make a delicious chicken broth (due to the bones)
Chicken feet have a lot of small bones and cartilage pieces. So just be careful when eating them or serving them to children
- Do use an oil scooper if you’re noticing that oil has been released from the meat during boiling
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
Check it out in my video to learn more!