Dim Sum Chicken Feet

Every time I make these braised chicken feet, or fèng zhǎo (meaning phoenix talons), they fill the air with the savory and aromatic smells of star anise, spicy fermented chili oil, and fragrant garlic.

They’re a dim sum staple in China and many places around the world, but making them at home will give you fresh and fall off the bone phoenix claws.

bowl of dim sum chicken feet

Background

Chicken feet are definitely not an everyday item on most American menus, but it’s a pretty regular item on many Asian, Eastern European, African, and other ethnic cuisines. As inexpensive pieces of chicken, they are accessible and are just as delicious.

I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of dim sum: the push carts, the fragrant smells of five spice, the card stamping, and most importantly, the vast array of small and shareable options. It’s often difficult to find chicken feet, char siu bao, cheung fun, pork and shrimp shumai, xiao long bao, and egg tarts all in one place at the same time except dim sum. It’s a special treat (that I like to treat myself to almost every chance I get).

Sourcing & prep

If you’ve never made chicken feet before, you might be wondering where you can even get chicken feet since it’s not typically a piece of chicken you find at most American grocery stores. In the past, I’ve bought them from my local Asian stores, like Hmart or 99 Ranch. Try to pick the most plump and large sized feet to get the most skin.

To prepare the chicken, you want to scrub and rinse them, remove any “impurities” like dark brown spots with a knife, and also cut off the tips of the claws where the nails lie.

trimmed chicken feet

One of the best pieces of advice I got when first making these chicken feet is to dry them up as much as possible before frying. Drying the feet beforehand reduces splattering oil when frying — trust me these babies splatter a LOT.

During the frying process, I usually place about four or five feet in the oil slowly and cover with a lid. 

Frying & braising

With this recipe, I am sticking with the traditional way of cooking chicken feet by frying first and then braising. This process might seem a little weird to you, but frying the chicken feet first actually gives us the most plump and tender skin at the end of cooking.

deep frying chicken feet

The frying process slightly breaks down the stiff structure of the chicken feet, removes the excess water from the chicken, and allows for the chicken to soak in all the savory and flavorful liquid during braising.

braising chicken feet in a pot

After frying, I braise the chicken feet with an assortment of aromatic ingredients like star anise, oyster sauce, chinkiang wine, ginger, and garlic. You want to braise for a long period of time to get tender and flavor infused pieces of chicken feet. Skipping the braising step can potentially give you chewy and tough chicken skin that no one wants to eat. 

Sauce

The last step is making a thick, salty, and sweet glaze to saute the now puffy and supple chicken feet. If you’ve had chicken feet during dim sum, you might notice the red coloring; This is made by using fermented black bean chili oil that carries a slight back heat so you only need a small amount.

completed chicken feet sauce
final cooked texture

I like to balance out the spiciness of the fermented oil by adding soy sauce, oyster sauce, and dark brown sugar. I also add some of the braising liquid into this sauce to dilute the thickness of the sauce and add even more flavor. When you toss the plump chicken feet into this sweet, salty, and spicy glaze, you’ll think you’re actually at a dim sum restaurant.

bowl of chicken feet with rice

How do you eat dim sum chicken feet?

Now that you’ve got your succulent and tender chicken feet, how do you eat them? After dozens and dozens of chicken feet I’ve consumed over the years, I’ve figured out the best way to eat them.

If you’re using chopsticks, get a good, firm grip at the wrist so that it doesn’t slide around or drop right when you’re about to take a bite. You can also use a fork, but this is harder to use since there isn’t really “meat” to pierce. I like to bite off the fingers from the claw and use my chopsticks to remove extra bones along the way while I’m eating.

chicken feet Pinterest image

bowl of dim sum chicken feet

Dim Sum Chicken Feet

These supple and soft chicken feet (or phoenix talons if you're fancy) will give you flavorful dim sum style dish at home, achieved by frying and braising!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Author: Huy Vu
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 1 hr 30 mins
Drying chicken: 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 3
Calories / serving: 513.3kcal

Ingredients

Frying

  • 1 lb (453.6 g) chicken feet
  • vegetable oil
  • ¼ c cornstarch

Braising

  • 10 c water
  • 3 inches ginger sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic smashed
  • 4 cloves star anise
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp chianking wine or rice wine vinegar

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • ¼ c braising liquid from above
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp crushed black pepper
  • 2 tsp black bean chili oil

Instructions

Frying

  • Clean your chicken feet by running them under cold water to remove any brown spots or extra bone fragments and pat dry. Place them on a cooling rack to dry out as much as possible for at least 30 minutes on your counter (or your fridge if you want to dry them out longer).
  • Use sharp kitchen scissors or a knife to cut the tips of the claws/nails and also other dark spots around the feet.
    trimmed chicken feet
  • In a bowl, add the cornstarch and lightly cover the chicken with the cornstarch. Dust off excess cornstarch and place the chicken feet back on the rack.
    floured chicken feet
  • Fill a heavy bottomed pot with vegetable oil (or another neutral oil) to about two inches and preheat oil to 375 °F. Carefully lower the chicken feet one by one into the oil and fry for about two minutes or until they turn lighter brown.
    deep frying chicken feet
  • Transfer the chicken to a cooling rack to remove excess oil and cool. Repeat with the next batch of chicken feet.
    fried chicken feet on cooling rack

Braising

  • Braising immediately after frying allows for plump and supple chicken feet, so don't wait. In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, add in water, ginger, garlic, star anise, oyster sauce, chinkiang wine, and the deep fried chicken feet. Bring to a boil and stir. Lower the heat to medium-low or to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for about one hour.
    braising chicken feet in a pot

Sauce

  • After braising, the chicken feet should look puffy and soft. Transfer the chicken feet into a bowl and filter the braising liquid to save for later using a strainer to remove aromatics. TIP: I try not to premake the braised chicken feet the day before because I found the chicken feet don’t soak up the flavorful sauce as much as fresh braised feet. It also takes longer to heat up the already supple chicken feet and can cause skin breakage.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium, add vegetable oil and saute garlic for about 30 second or until fragrant.
  • In a small bowl mix the cornstarch and water.
  • Add the remaining Sauce ingredients to the pot and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then cook for another minute.
  • While stirring the sauce, add in the cornstarch and water mixture and stir to fully dissolve. The sauce should begin to thicken very fast so keep stirring to make sure all the liquid is incorporated. If it’s too thick you can add more braising liquid to thin it out. See photo for the target sauce consistency.
    completed chicken feet sauce
  • Add in the chicken feet and stir to coat each piece. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.
    chicken feet tossed in sauce

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

Calories: 513.3kcal | Carbohydrates: 23.8g | Protein: 32.2g | Fat: 31.6g | Saturated Fat: 10.1g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 1089.5mg | Potassium: 131.9mg | Fiber: 1.6g | Sugar: 2.4g | Vitamin A: 151.2IU | Vitamin C: 3.3mg | Calcium: 184.9mg | Iron: 2.1mg
Course: Appetizer, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: chicken feet, dim sum
I'd love to see what you cook up!Mention @HungryHuy or tag #hungryhuy to notify me

Like this recipe? Subscribe to my newsletter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating