For most Malaysians, our earliest meeting with chicken feet usually occurs at our grandparents’ house, either from watching them chew on it during a late-night drinking session or finding a piece at the bottom of our soup bowls.
To non-Asians, the idea of consuming chicken claw is often seen as daunting and for the most part, unappetising. But little do they know, the feet of a chicken has been long considered a delicacy in Chinese culture, with strong origins within Sichuan cuisine.
What is Braised Chicken Feet?
Commonly found in dim sum restaurants, Braised Chicken Feet is typically cooked and served as a side dish. As there is little meat around the knuckles, the feet mostly consists of skin and tendons. It is first cleaned and boiled before paired with a delicious marinade – usually made of black bean paste, soy sauce, and other spices. The end result is a dish that is juicy and gelatinous. Most chicken feet lovers enjoy indulging on the savoury piece until there’s barely any juice left before reaching for another. You can even follow our recipe here!
History of Braised Chicken Feet
Not much was written on the origin story of the dish, other than the fact that it originates from China. However, some speculate that poor Chinese folks started consuming it as a way to prevent waste. After all, the feet of an animal is often discarded and binned.
But others believe that chicken feet were a dish that belonged to the rich. Having been around since the Zhou Dynasty (1066 – 221 BCE), the dish was prized as they resembled the claws of a legendary phoenix. The amount of collagen in chicken feet was said to improve complexion, provide glowing hair and nails, making them a traditional superfood of some sort.
Its Health Benefits
Today, many still consume chicken feet solely because of the benefits related to good complexion. Studies have shown that chicken feet are a great and inexpensive source of collagen. Where most collagen can be found from seafood or bovine, the cost of retrieving them would be relatively expensive, but with chicken feet, it would be a reasonable by-product from harvesting chicken.
Many know collagen as an ingredient that helps generate youthful and supple skin. Furthermore, as it is also rich in calcium and protein (without any added carbohydrates), it contributes to the strengthening of bones and blood vessels, which can be beneficial for the elderly.
On top of that, elderly can rejoice at the thought of going for another serving of chicken feet because the dish is strong in hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate – both known to help prevent or slow down the effects of ageing as well as joint problems.
Chicken Feet Around The World
With all its benefits, it’s no surprise the dish is loved and shared by many cultures across the globe, including Thailand, Korea, and even in Eastern Europe.
In Indonesia, chicken feet remains popular within the Javanese community as they come with many variations of the dish. In Chinese cooking, chicken feet are used in soups and stews called sop ceker, comprising of lemongrass, turmeric, ground shallots, cabbage and rice noodles. But unlike Chinese cooking, the Javanese also enjoy deep-frying chicken feet into crispy crackers. Furthermore, chicken feet is often mixed into baby food as the collagen is said to help with bone development in infants.