So let’s say, hypothetically, that one day you decide to partake in the ancient Chinese custom of dim sum. Let’s assume that you’ve already worked your way through the selection of dumplings and buns, and are feeling a little adventurous. Lo and behold, the platonic ideal of culinary adventurism suddenly rolls by: chicken feet, intriguingly dubbed “phoenix claws.”
“Sure, why not,” you say, as you point to them. Suddenly, there’s a chicken foot in front of you, and you’re going to eat it, pushing aside the realization that it closely resembles a human hand. How exactly is this done again?
There are a couple things worth knowing about chicken feet. One, they contain zero actual muscle, which is known in the culinary world as “meat.” Two, they’re basically all skin and tendons. They’re very gelatinous, which is a texture that’s popular in Asia but not nearly so common in America. So before diving in, bear in mind that this dish may be an acquired taste.
Or an acquired texture, we should say. Because the taste is basically that of chicken (obviously) mixed with whatever they’re flavored with. Before they’re served, chicken feet are usually simmered with some combination of soy sauce, garlic, chile, vinegar, sugar, and/or other Asian seasonings, rendering them pretty tasty.
As for the best way to eat them? Well, just have at it. Approach them like chicken wings; just keep gnawing at them until you’re down to the bones. You can even suck the skin and flavoring from the toes, if you’re into that sort of thing.