September 5, 2011

[Our World] Queasy Stomach? Don't Read This.

Most Asian visitors to this blog post won't comprehend my title. What's the big deal, they'll ask? But the rest of you...? If you do not have an adventurous palate, or you are vehemently vegan, this post may not appeal to you.

For Our World today I want to tell you how something outwardly repugnant can be oh so delicious. I am referring to chicken feet.

Wikipedia explains:
Chicken feet are a part of the chicken that is eaten in Chinese, Trinidadian, Jamaican, South African, Peruvian, Dominican, and Philippine cuisine. Most of the edible meat on the feet consists of skin and tendons, without much muscle. This gives the feet a distinct texture different from the rest of the chicken's meat. There are many small bones which makes it difficult to eat for some; these are often picked out before serving. Being mostly cartilage, chicken feet are very gelatinous.
I venture to say that people are put off because the feet are, not to mince words, hideously ugly.

Manila, 2011

But that makes them nonetheless tasty. Oh, and for the curious, the hard yellow scaly outer skin the live chicken stomps around the yard on is removed, usually before the feet get to the market.

There are a number of standard Chinese recipes for chicken feet. Perhaps the most famous is the dim style in black bean sauce. My honey stews them with black eyed peas, preserved bean curd, peppercorns, cloves and laurel leaves. Served with garlic stir-fried bok choy and a red-brown rice combo, and we've got a perfect meal.


To eat the feet, you bite off a piece at a joint, roll it around your mouth to chew off anything that is soft, then, as gracefully as possible, spit out the bones. Yumm!

Decades ago, my European-bred mother would have been mortified at the thought of any of this. But over the years, as she traveled to visit me, she too came to appreciate the wonders of Asian cuisines.

So, have I totally grossed you out? What is your favorite "strange" dish?

29 comments:

jabblog said...

Chicken feet have to take the prize for the most repulsive dish. I'll take your word for it that they're delicious, though I must say your recipe sounds wonderful:-)

Kay L. Davies said...

Didn't gross me out, Francisca, because I've seen them any number of times in Vancouver, but I am not about to eat them myself. I don't eat pigs' trotters or frogs' legs, either.
Always an interesting post on your site, however!
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

joo said...

I'm a vegetarian, and looking at them I might turn even vegan:)
Have a nice week!

Ms. Becky said...

I do have an appreciation for things that are different, but I honestly can't say I would ever try this dish! it doesn't repulse me, but...well...you know. I will take your word for it that they are tasty and leave it at that. I like to believe that I will try anything at least once, but that only goes so far. it's theory, not necessarily practice. happy day to you Francisca!

cieldequimper said...

I'd try them!

EG Wow said...

I'm a vegetarian. :)) I'd heard that some people eat chicken feet...but I didn't know it was true. :)

jennyfreckles said...

Yup, pretty grossed out here - you did warn me!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I've seen them in markets in Chinatowns -- but never on a menu. We would try them if someone else cooked them (and explained again, as you did, how to eat them).

Andrea said...

Hi Francisca, i am back from island hopping and the Tinuy-an Falls in Surigao del Norte, Mindanao. You might be amazed but i've tried this Chinese chicken feet dish only once, when a friend ordered it. Yes it's delicious but i will not order it myself. I might not be like most of us here because i am not as adventurous as most of us are. I don't eat entrails, necks, tails, head and balut. I can't even look at someone eating balut! But i love fish heads though. Other animals i don't. When my friend tried all those insects and worms being sold in Cambodia, my stomach had a somersault looking at him.

James said...

I never tried chicken feet but I remember seeing stands in the Philippines that sold large red chicken feet on sticks. I have say I'm one who finds them hideously ugly. :)

Genie said...

They d not look very appealing to me, but I am one of those crazies that will try almost anything....including chicken feet. I bet they are crunchy if fried. Your photos are fine. Hope you are having a nice week. genie

J Bar said...

Mouth watering. Not really. :)

Sylvia K said...

Well, whether I would actually try chicken feet -- I don't know, but I do love your post and the reactions you have gotten!! Great giggles for the night. And terrific captures! Glad you told us they were skinned -- I've seen up close where and through what far too many have walked when I spent time on an uncles' farm!! How delightful our worlds are! Have a wonderful week, Francisca!!

Sylvia

Karen said...

Interesting but...Ummm...nope, not eating feet! I am opposed to eating anything with eyes, and they all have feet too!

ladyfi said...

I lived in China for three years and became vegetarian after the first one! I did try chicken's feet as well as the brain, sea cucumber and snake... before deciding never to eat meat again.

Ebie said...

You made me laugh, don't we call the "adidas"?

Hehehehe, but I don;t eat them.

Jenn said...

Love it! It's actually one of my favorites and will always order it wherever available.

ewok1993 said...

while i consider myself possessing adventurous palate, i must say i haven't had any chicken feet yet.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

The sauce and bok choy sound wonderful. I'd order it over rice but hold the chicken feet.

Arija said...

Certainly not me, I love them. I have had them at a Sydney yum cha.

Great post!

eileeninmd said...

No, I do not think I could get over just looking at them on a plate. Interesting post and photos though. Thanks for sharing, Francisca.

Kaori said...

I'm asian but that shot of the feet before they are cooked is quite an image! But yes, I wasn't gross out. My Okinawan people eat the skin of the pig's face. Apparently it's really good. I'm just really surprised to learn that there's anything on the chicken's feet besides the bone. Very interesting post, Francisca ;D

Carolyn Ford said...

the cuisine around the world is a real eye-opener for me...!! great images, Francisca...!!!

Shooting Parrots said...

It sounds like it might be worth a try, although it seems an awful lot of trouble when you've got the rest of the chicken to go at!

Evelyn said...

Hehe, not for me. My mum makes a very nice dish though. She removes all the skin, so we don't see the claws. She uses the crunchy pieces of skin (I don't know how she makes it crunchy) into a Thai styled salad. I like that.

Dina said...

This reminds me that I haven't seen chicken feet for many many years. When I first moved to Israel in 1968, if you bought a fresh chicken the butcher would always give you the feet too. Seeing them and having to ask what to do with them did gross me out then.
But I learned that they went into the chicken soup pan and later, to the cats.
I never heard of EATING them.

JM said...

No! No! Absolutely not! LOL!

Ingrid said...

haha - I really háve to comment on this one.... the most 'gross' food? fried goat testicles I guess... (Greek cuisine). Fresh catched, raw sea urchin (Spanish sea-picknic) Or sheep intestines (mostly stomach)from North-Africa. When Shehrazade was born we were offered a cooked sheepshead... Thanks, but no way I would eat thát!!
Gross for some, but sooo delicous: froglegs.

Vicki/Jake said...

Late peek at an older post...had to come see what you were doing with a bowl of baby's hands! That's what it looked like to me at first. No way for me....unless I didn't know what I was eating. My worse thing was in Boston when I was offered Calamari...one taste...just one. Not for me. My Thai and Philippina
friends at work eat squid and some kind of little fish with black eyes looking at you. Then there's the rotten duck eggs.....This is fun to learn though.