Foot Fetish: Phoenix Talons

Tasty Garden - Alhambra, CA Get More Details

What Is It? When you think chicken, you tend to think leg or egg. But hairy, veiny, rubbery little feet? Chicken feet, or phoenix talons as they're referred to in dim sum restaurants, are a common savory snack in China, Jamaica, South Africa, Peru and the Philippines. China is now one of America's largest export markets for chickens, namely for the giant juicy paws we produce as a result of our obsession with plumping.

How to Eat It: There's no graceful way to gnaw on a foot. Experts suggest you start by biting off the toes, then discard the skin (optional) and work your way up to the meatiest part -- the pad of the foot. Since there's so little actual meat, the true joy of eating chicken feet dim sum is in the flavor of the sauces and the tender skin. Extracting the bones from your mouth onto the plate with dignity is the trickiest part.

What It Tastes Like: Deep fried or steamed and then usually stewed in sauces or grilled, chicken feet have an almost gelatin-like consistency since they are mostly cartilage. One Chowhounder says the taste is the "most chicken-y imaginable." South Africans boil then grill their "walkie talkies" (feet served with the head). In Jamaica they make chicken foot soup with yams, potatoes, bananas and dumplings. Chicken feet are sweet in the Philippines, where they're grilled in brown sugar and spices and referred to as "adidas" -- yes, after the shoe.

Where to Get It: Lick your fingers and some poultry toes at traditional Chinese restaurants such as Tasty Garden, which has several outposts in southern California.

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