AKA Foong Jau
AKA Chicken's feet
of Yum Cha
True connoisseurs of yum cha will tell you that the dining experience is not complete without chicken's feet. Braised in chilli and black beans, it is so very tasty; but you don't eat it for the taste. You eat it for the texture. Soft and gooey, and slightly chewy. Suckable. Skin and tendons. Spit out the bones, one by one, as you go through the talons… Guaranteed shock-value for first-timers.
The Chinese believe that eating chicken feet will strengthen your joints and ligaments. Hear this!! I was made to eat chicken's feet after my knee reconstruction.
Here's a rough description of how this delicacy is made.
- 500g chicken feet
- 2 teaspoons black beans, mashed
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- chopped red chillies, to taste
- pinch of sugar
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 3 - 4 star anise
- 1 cup water
To clean the chicken's feet, plunge them into rapidly boiling water for 20-30 seconds. You will find the outer skin, which even covers the claws, comes off like a glove. But puh-lease, trim off the nails first!
Then heat some oil in a saucepan. Give the black beans, chillies and garlic a quick swish. Throw in the chicken's feet and remaining ingredients and bring to the boil.
Turn down the heat and cook on a low simmer for about an hour, until the chicken's feet are soft and gelatinous. Time to eat (or more accurately, suck!).
With help from Banquet: Ten courses to Harmony by A. Shun Wah and G. Aitkin. Doubleday 1999. An insightful book of Australian-Chinese cuisine with lots of historical notes.