Sunday, March 8, 2009

Chicken Feet a.k.a Phoenix Claws – A matter of Skin and Bones

Image by niznoz
Phoenix Claws is prepared by first frying and marinating chicken feet in a variety of seasoning and spices like the star anise, chili, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and black bean. Then, it is steamed and ready to serve. Devour it however you like, but just spit out the bones in the end.

I enjoy cooking for the meatatarians but I never understood why it’s such a savored dish. While in some circumstances, the unconventional use for skin and bones can turn the ordinary food into awesome appetizers, like potato skins, even on my pescatarian terms, chewing on say salmon skin just doesn’t make sense. I guess our Chinese ancestors desired a better use for chicken feet other than for making stock. Nevertheless, I’m open to cool and unusual food experiences (or cruel and unusual, depending on your preference) and I dedicate this post to my husband and the brothers (my own brother and my brother-in-laws) who go gaga for chicken feet.

Here’s a recipe I use from Betty Shimabukuro.

1 pound chicken feet
2 quarts oil
2 quarts water
1 ounce fresh ginger
3 pieces star anise
2 ounces Chinese parsley roots
2 ounces maltose sugar – a syrup used for cooking and brewing beer.

2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 ounce chopped chili pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame seed oil

Wash feet and remove nails and any traces of scaly yellow skin. Cut into quarters.

Heat oil to 350 degrees. Mix the chicken feet with maltose and fry until it turns golden brown (about 7 minutes.) Remove and drain.

In a separate pot, boil water and add ginger, star anise and parsley roots. Add feet. Bring to boil again, then reduce heat and simmer 90 minutes. Drain.

Combine the marinade ingredients. Marinate the feet for about 24 hours. Before serving, steam the feet and marinade for about 15 minutes.

Serves 3. Approximate nutritional analysis, per 2 ounce serving: 300 calories, 18 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol,greater than 1,100 mg sodium.



  1. I am ashamed to admit that I don't flip over chicken feet despite my Chinese heritage, I guess I could never get over the chewy consistency and how they looked. I'll have to give them another try next time I'm at dim sum. Making them yourself is an amazing feet(haha, pun intended).

  2. Put down as 'gaga' over chicken feet! Love 'em but my husband isn't as fond, not because he doesn't think they taste good but rather he's never mastered the art of eating them. More for me!

  3. This is too funny. I had chicken feet at chinatown in Chicago this morning and I thought, wouldn't it be nice to know how to make this? Then 9:40 PM, I thought I would visit your blog to see what'd been happening. And there it is, the chicken feet recipe. You rock.

  4. Bravo! I like that you didn't feel the need to justify the eating chicken feet (even though people often cringe at the thought), but actually went the extra mile to provide a recipe. I like this dish a lot, thanks!

  5. I supposed I will only marinate the chicken feet...what do you do with the broth? Thanks for sharing this recipe, btw...

  6. Thank you!!chicken feet in the pot boiling away as i type this.

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