Feng Zhua: Phoenix Claws

Although the translation of feng zhua is phoenix claws, the Hong Kong and Cantonese dim sum delicacy actually refers to chicken feet that has been deep fried, steamed, stewed, and simmered. The flavor comes from a sauce of black fermented beans, bean paste, and sugar in which the feet have simmered and soaked in. The chicken feet, often thought as the undesirable and unusable part by Western standards for its lack of meat, becomes the vehicle of texture for the sauce, offering its skin and tendons for an eating experience like no other. And it’s that experience of eating the bony bites that makes it unique, as seasoned veterans, myself included, expertly maneuver the feet in their mouths, using teeth and tongue to separate the edible from the inedible, savoring its flavor, and spitting out a small pile of clean bone. It certainly tops the list of strangest foods but also the list of must-try dishes.

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