The Chicken Feet (鳳爪) at Chinatown in Halifax were very different from the usual Dim Sum preparation and got a Rating of 5 out of 5.
I first introduced ‘Phoenix Claws’ or Chicken Feet as a Dim Sum dish in my review of the very delicious Chicken Feet at the Hum Sung Restaurant. Those were done very much the same way as Chicken Feet are most commonly served in Dim Sum restaurants and they were, up to that point, one of the best versions of the dish I have had. The version pictured above was served to me at the Chinatown Restaurant in Halifax. These were markedly different than any I have had before and were very good indeed.
Generally, Chicken Feet are deep-fried and then stewed along with various flavoring ingredients, commonly Sweet Bean Sauce, Garlic, and Chinese Salted Black Beans, among other things. They are usually kept hot for Dim Sum service by steaming and, when served, are glazed with the cooking sauce.
The Chicken Feet at Chinatown departed from the standard form both in terms of the cooking process, and service. There was clearly no frying done in this case and it appeared most likely that the wings had been parboiled. Possibly some aromatics were included in the poaching medium, although this was not possible to say, but there was no Soy Sauce or other dark additives, so the Feet were almost a form of ‘White Cut Chicken’.
Instead of the usual thick, and usually somewhat sweet glaze, or sauce, these Feet were tossed with Chili Pickle and sliced Scallion greens in a light vinaigrette type preparation. The chilies were a very small variety and quite hot. Indeed, they were hot enough that my sister declined a second foot. In any event, the nice, light, tangy and spicy dressing was an interesting and pleasant change from the usual.
What made the 鳳爪 at Chinatown really unique was that they were served cold. The end result over all was that the actual taste of chicken came through much more clearly when not served hot with a thick sauce, and the bite of the skin was a bit firmer and more chewy than the rather flabby texture you sometimes get with hot versions where the skin is first coated before being cooked. All in all, this was a novel and delicious dish.
I was just having a discussion with friends about chicken feet last week and the only one that would eat them was my husband. 😀 I’ll tell him that if he wants to travel you know where he can get some good ones.