This much-guarded recipe is one that many Cantonese chefs and cooks take to their graves. We’ve pieced together this recipe from a variety of sources. The chicken feet are first deep-fried, then plunged into iced water for 2 hours to make them ‘puff up’. Then they’re braised to infuse flavour and achieve a succulent texture. For maximum flavour, marinate the chicken feet overnight.

Serves
6

Preparation

20min

Cooking

2hr
10min

Skill level

Easy
By
7
Average: 3.2 (79 votes)

Ingredients

  • 1 kg chicken feet (see Note)
  • 120 g (⅓ cup) char siu sauce (see Note)
  • peanut oil, to deep-fry, plus 2 tbs extra
  • 125 ml (½ cup) Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) (see Note)
  • 2 star anise  
  • 4 spring onions, cut into thirds
  • 3 cm piece ginger, sliced
  • 100 g (⅓ cup) hot bean sauce (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp abalone sauce (see Note) 
  • 1 red birdseye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 55 g (¼ cup) white sugar
  • white pepper to taste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Marinating time overnight

Wash the chicken feet in a large bowl of salted water, removing any scaly yellow outer skin. Chop off the claws and discard, then place the chicken feet in a large bowl and marinate in char siu sauce for at least 3 hours or overnight. Drain the feet, then pat dry with paper towel.

Fill a deep-fryer or large saucepan one-third full with oil and heat over medium heat to 180°C (or until a cube of bread turns golden in 10 seconds). Working in batches, gently drop chicken feet into oil and fry for 3 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel, then plunge into iced water for 2 hours or until 'puffed up'.

Place 2 litres water, 80 ml (⅓ cup) rice wine, star anise, spring onions, ginger and chicken feet in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1½ hours or until tender. Strain chicken feet, reserving 125 ml (½ cup) cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a wok, combine hot bean sauce, abalone sauce, chilli, garlic, extra 2 tbsp oil, remaining 2 tbsp rice wine, sugar and reserved cooking liquid, and season with white pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium. Add chicken feet and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until chicken feet are warmed through and sauce has slightly thickened. Serve immediately or cool and reheat later in a steamer basket, if desired.

 

Notes
• Chicken feet are available from Asian butchers.
• Char sui sauce is made from hoi sin, sherry, honey and sugar. It is available from selected supermarkets or Asian food shops.
• Chinese rice wine (shaoxing) is available from Asian food shops; substitute dry sherry.
• Hot bean and alabone sauces are available from Asian food shops.

 

Photography by Alan Benson.

 

Want more recipes like this? We recommend: 

400+ chicken dishes for any chow down.
• More yum cha faves: dumplings and chilli salted squid.
Chicken wings and drumsticks (if feet aren't your thing).
• Adventurous eaters alert: tripe with white wine and black bean sauce.