Name: Foong Jow
Primary Ingredient(s): Chicken Feet
Type of Dish: Meat
Method of Preparation: Steamed
If there is one dish in the dim sum repertoire that is sure to make a few people raise and eyebrow or two, it is Chicken feet. Let me assure the non-believers out there that eating chicken feet feels no different than eating buffalo wings, albeit with less hot sauce.
The feet are first marinated in a sauce of the chef’s choosing. Sometimes it’s a ginger sauce, other times a black bean sauce. I’m sure that there are other popular means of marination as well. Your mileage may vary from restaurant to restaurant.
The feet are then steamed. That’s right – steamed chicken feet. I’ll confess to the fact that writing the phrase “steamed chicken feet” made me wince a little bit, even though I’m a fan of the dish.
One thing I have found in a few places is that, as a person of Western descent, I have to ask for the dish when it comes around. Part of the stigma surrounding the dish means that the folks running the carts are less likely to offer chicken feet to people who they think are just going to turn it down. If you want chicken feet, chances are good you’re often going to have to ask for them. However, once you’ve put in your request, you’ll see the servers face often light up.
There are likely several tricks to eat the feet, but what works for me is this – I hold the feet with chopsticks by holding the middle claw. I then eat whatever meat is on the ankle. From there, the now clean ankle can be held by the chopsticks or (if inclined) your fingers. This allows the rest of the meat to be consumed with little difficulty.
One word of note here. Chicken feet are one of the few dishes that take a near cult-like fascination with fans of dim sum. I’ve seen and read of people reviewing a place solely on the quality of the feet. While this may or may not be fair, it does happen.