Steamed chicken feet is our must-order dish at any dim sum restaurant. The idea of eating feet may turn some people off, but trust me, it is so tasty and addictive. Sucking on the bones and slurping the tender skins and cartilages are absolutely satisfying! I myself was grossed out by them when I was a kid. I remember my grandma often persuaded me to eat chicken feet for various health benefits including strong bones, and I just couldn't even try them. I blamed my neighbor's annoying free-range chickens that always managed to intrude my front yard. My grandma must be proud of me now. We usually order at least two portions of chicken feet for the three of us. Furthermore, this famous menu is one of our decision making in rating dim sum restaurants.
Serving dim sum style chicken feet on my own dining table had become my cooking obsession. So, I asked butchers at a grocery store that sold free range and organic chickens if they had the feet, and they said no. I knew an oriental grocery store that sold those, but I don't really trust the meat quality at that store. I asked several times the next grocery visits, hoping that they had those. Well, the feet need to go somewhere, right? Years later (after I quit asking the butchers) I found bags of chicken feet in their fridge, and they were so inexpensive. It's $2 for 15 feet! I had a wide smile having 30 chicken feet marching home.
Little that I knew that getting the chicken feet was the easiest part. All promising recipes I read involved all frying, braising, marinating, and steaming. I thought they were only steamed? It took me about two months to build up momentum to cook them. I must say that cooking them is a labor of love! We had to wait until the next day (yeah, couldn't speed things up having a toddler around) before we really had them served on our table. The greatest part was, they were as great as ones we can get from dim sum restaurants; and most importantly, hubby and our toddler (yes our toddler) loved them. It was so rewarding seeing them enjoying what I cooked. However, I may not make it again in a near future. Driving to Atlanta --the closest place to get dim sum-- may still be a better option
Chicken Feet Source: Dim Sum Central with some modifications 1 pound chicken feet
2 quarts oil
2 quarts water
1 ounce fresh ginger
3 pieces star anise
2 ounces honey
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Make sure to wash the chicken feet and chop off any toenails.
Heat the oil and mix the chicken feet with honey. Deep fry in the oil until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove the feet and drain.
Boil the water and add ginger and star anise. Add the chicken feet and bring the mixture to a boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for 90 minutes. Drain.
Combine marinade ingredients and marinate the feet for at least 3 hours (and up to 24 hours for maximum flavor). Before serving, steam the feet and marinade together in small bowls for 15 minutes.