Why It Works
- A simple mix of aromatics, salt, and sugar in the simmering liquid adds flavor to the chicken feet.
- You can batter the chicken feet before deep-frying to achieve a crunchy texture reminiscent of fried chicken, or skip the batter for a snack similar to pork cracklings (though much less fatty).
Chicken feet may not offer much meat to speak of, but when they're deep-fried, they make up for it in crunchy texture and chicken-y flavor. Simmering them first in a water bath with simple flavorings—garlic, soy sauce, sugar, and cinnamon—leaves them abundantly tender inside, ready to take on the crispy shell that makes them such an addictive snack.
- For Simmering:
- 1 pound (450g) chicken feet
- 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15g) sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 stick cinnamon
- For Deep-Frying and to Serve:
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup flour (about 4 1/2 ounces; 128g) mixed with 1 teaspoon (4g) salt
- 1 quart (900ml) oil for deep-frying
- Sea salt, for serving
Clip the toenails from the chicken feet and wash the feet, removing calluses and any loose-hanging skin.
Place the chicken feet in a 2-quart sauté pan and add enough water to cover. Add all simmering ingredients to pan and bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until feet are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Remove feet from cooking liquid, which can be reserved for another purpose. Allow feet to cool.
Whisk eggs and flour/salt mixture in a medium bowl. Dip feet into batter, shaking off excess flour. If needed, dip the feet twice, to ensure they're fully coated.
In a wok, bring 1 quart (900ml) oil to 375°F (190°C). Add feet in batches and deep-fry until batter is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Have a lid ready in the event of splattering oil. Serve immediately, adding a sprinkling of sea salt if needed. (Alternatively, you can skip the batter and fry the feet plain. Dress with more soy sauce and chili oil, as desired.)
2-quart sauté pan, wok or other vessel for deep-frying