Are you an adventurous eater? If you are, then you should try chicken paws. What are chicken paws, you ask? And how should you cook them?
Chicken paws are technically still chicken feet. However, chicken paws are just the feet of the chicken. It does not include the lower leg. They are just the chicken’s feet.
Read on to learn more about chicken paws and some tasty recipes you can prepare with them.
What Are Chicken Paws?
What is the difference between chicken paws vs. chicken feet? Chicken paws are just the chicken’s feet. Traditional chicken feet are the paws with the lower leg of the bird. It is quite difficult to find an Asian market that sells just chicken paws. You will almost always find chicken feet.
Although Western countries typically discard chicken paws, it is a delicacy in many Asian countries. These include China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. In these countries, many recipes call for chicken feet. However, the most common cooking method is to braise them in broth.
Preparation of chicken feet usually involves three processes – deep-frying, braising and simmering. Unlike when you fry chicken skin, the chicken feet do not get crispy when deep-fried.
The purpose of deep-frying is to make the skin puff up. That way, it can absorb more flavors and make the cartilage gelatinous. This promotes ease in removing the meat from the bones when you eat them.
Are Chicken Paws or Chicken Feet Good?
For most Westerners, it might seem that chicken paws are disgusting. However, once you get them a try, you will realize why they are popular in East and Southeast Asian countries.
Of course, chicken paws still taste like chicken, but the flavor is milder. In addition, the slightly chewy texture of the meat might seem strange for first-timers. Despite that, it can get quite addictive quickly.
Asian Countries Usually Use All Animal Parts
Why do people eat chicken paws/feet? Unlike other Western countries, Asian cultures usually use all parts of an animal for food.
To them, throwing away the good parts of an animal is just a waste. Many Asian nationalities eat chicken feet, and other parts are often thrown away by Western butchers.
Aside from the chicken paws, Asians also eat the rooster’s comb, the entire head, heart, gizzard, and intestines. Many recipes make these typically disposed chicken parts a delicacy despite looking quite disgusting to your Western palate.
Properly Prepare and Cook Chicken Paws
To enjoy chicken paws, you have to prepare and cook them properly. In this sense, you need to turn to Chinese or Southeast Asian recipes. That way, you can appreciate the flavor and consistency of chicken paws.
Benefits of Eating Chicken Paws or Feet
Chicken paws may not be the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of your next meal. However, consider eating them now and then. Properly prepared and cooked chicken paws are delectable and are also quite nutritious.
Contain Proteins, Vitamins, and Minerals
It may take a lot of courage for Westerners to take that first bite. However, chicken paws contain a lot of nutrients that your body needs. They contain a lot of proteins, vitamins, and minerals, including niacin and selenium.
Have a Significant Amount of Copper
Chicken feet/paws also contain a significant amount of the mineral copper. Copper is an essential mineral to keep your bodily functions normal.
One of these functions would be improving red blood cell formation. This mineral is also necessary for maintaining your skin tissues bright and quite elastic.
Have Antioxidant Properties
Chicken paws also have antioxidant properties. Such antioxidants can help combat the free radicals that get inside your body. Free radicals are responsible for causing wrinkles on your skin. Chicken paws are also chock-full-of collagen, which is good for your skin.
Source of Collagen
The usual sources of collagen in food come from beef, pork, and many types of saltwater fish. In meats, you can usually get collagen from the tendons and other connective tissue. However, pound per pound, you can get more collagen from chicken feet than from other animal-based sources.
Contain Hyaluronic Acid and Chondroitin Sulfate
Aside from being so cheap, chicken paws are chock-full of collagen. Aside from that, they are also rich in hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate.
Hyaluronic acid is an antioxidant, often touted as the “fountain of youth” because it prevents the usual signs of aging. These include wrinkles, saggy skin, and dry hair, among many others.
On the other hand, Chondroitin sulfate is great for improving joint health. This is great news for those who have arthritis and other joint problems.
What Is Collagen and Its Benefits?
Simply put, collagen is a type of protein that acts like “glue.” This glue holds the cells of your body together. You might already know that collagen does wonders for your skin. However, did you know that it can also benefit your heart health and improve overall fitness?
Here are some of the other benefits that you can get from collagen:
- Healthy and young-looking skin
- It contains a lot of calcium and protein without carbohydrates
- Strengthens the walls of the blood vessels to improve circulation
- Improves the body’s metabolism, thus assisting in weight loss
- Lubricates joints, thereby reducing the swelling, pain, and inflammation caused by arthritis
- Improves bone formation and density in postmenopausal women, thus preventing bone loss
Collagen supplements are quite expensive, so why spend so much when you can get collagen from chicken paws? Aside from being rich in collagen, chicken paws also taste good.
Disadvantages of Eating Chicken Paws
Although chicken feet have a lot of health benefits, it also has a couple of downsides. Most of these downsides stem from the manner of cooking and preparation. Here are some of the disadvantages of chicken paws:
1. Contain a Lot of Trans Fatty Acids (TFA)
Chicken paws would usually be deep-fried, introducing trans fats into the dish. TFA also increases cholesterol, LDL (bad fats), and triglycerides.
When you buy chicken paws or feet, carefully inspect each one. Check if the feet have ammonia burns that look like blisters. Ammonia burns are often evidence of the bird standing in its poop most of the time.
3. Choking Hazard
Chicken paws contain a lot of small bones. If you are not careful when eating them, you may choke.
How to Prepare Chicken Paws
Unlike the other traditional cuts of meat, chicken paws need a lot of preparation before the actual cooking process. Here’s how you prepare chicken paws before cooking:
1. Place the Chicken Paws in a Container of Cold Water
Keep the chicken paws submerged in water so that scum would float to the top. This usually takes anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Use a Clean Brush with Plastic Bristles to Scrub Each Paw
While submerged, scrub each paw thoroughly using a clean brush with plastic bristles – This will remove the grime and dirt that might still be lodged in the feet.
3. Place a Pot on the Stove and Boil Enough Water to Submerge the Chicken Paws
Blanch the chicken paws in the boiling water for 30 seconds. This promotes ease in removing the outer skin of the chicken paws.
4. Gently Peel Away the Chicken Paws’ Outer Skin
You can then use kitchen shears to remove the claws and the spurs.
5. Submerge in a Large Bowl of Water
To remove the gamey smell, submerge the chicken paws in a large bowl of water. The water should also have some salt and vinegar.
A 15-minute soak should be enough to get rid of any smells, if there are any. Drain the chicken feet and pat dry using a clean kitchen towel. The chicken paws are now ready for cooking.
Can You Give Chicken Paws for Dogs
Some companies use chicken paws for dogs as treats. These are dehydrated and puffed chicken paws, making them palatable for dogs.
You normally would not feed dogs chicken bones as they could easily choke on the bone shards. Meanwhile, dehydrated and puffed chicken paws would crumble into tiny pieces that easily go down your pet’s throat.
Again, what is the difference between chicken paws and chicken feet? Chicken paws are similar to the chicken feet. However, a chicken paw does not contain the lower leg. Literally, a chicken paw is the chicken foot.
Easy Yet Tasty Chicken Paw Recipes
Now that you’ve prepared the chicken feet, it is time to cook them. There are lots of recipes that you can try. For a truly authentic eating experience, you should go with the basic Asian dishes.
Dim Sum Style Chicken Paws
This is the classic chicken paw recipe for the dish that you would usually find in many Chinese restaurants.
The ginger and star anise eliminates the gamey smell and taste often found in chicken feet. Frying and braising the chicken paws make the meat of the chicken paws fall off the bones.
- 1 pound chicken paws, approximately 12 pieces, cleaned and prepared
- A 1-inch-long piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
- Three cloves of garlic, crushed
- Two pieces of star anise
- 1 to 3 pieces of chilis (bird’s eye chilis recommended)
- 1/3 cup char Siu sauce
- ½ cup Chinese cooking wine
- 1/3 cup fermented black beans
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- ½ cup brown sugar
- Pour enough cooking oil to deep-fry the chicken paws in a deep saucepan. The point here is not to make the chicken feet crispy. You have to break down the connective tissues. After 2 to 3 minutes of deep-frying, take the feet out. Place them on a bed of paper towels to drain as much of the excess oil as possible.
- In a wok or large frying pan, heat the sesame oil. Sauté the garlic, star anise, and ginger until the garlic turns golden brown. Add the chilis and sauté for another minute or so. Note: lower the heat a bit when sauteing chilis. The reason is that when they start to smoke, they turn into tear gas.
- Add the Char Siu sauce, cooking wine, black beans, and brown sugar. Stir constantly until all the sugar dissolves. Add a bit more water if you want to thin out the sauce. Let the sauce boil, allowing the flavors to meld.
- Add the deep-fried chicken feet and mix well. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the wok and let the dish braise for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This will make the meat fall off the bones. If the sauce seems too thin, thicken the sauce using a bit of cornstarch slurry.
- Serve while hot. Garnish with crispy fried garlic bits and chopped green onions. It goes great with steamed rice.
Note: If you don’t want to deep-fry the chicken feet, steam them in a bamboo steamer for an hour. This will make this chicken paws recipe less greasy.
Dak-Bal – Korean Chicken Paws
This is a favorite side dish in Korea, usually served as an accompaniment to beer and other alcoholic beverages. Be careful, though. Just like most Korean dishes, this dish is extremely spicy. However, you can omit the chili peppers if you have a low tolerance for spicy food.
- 1 pound chicken paws, approximately 12 pieces, cleaned and prepared
- 2 tbsp coarse sea salt
- ½ cup Soju (Korean rice wine) or vodka if soju is unavailable
- Three cloves garlic
- 1 to 9 pieces of bird’s eye chilis, depending on your tolerance for spicy food (optional)
- 1 tbsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 2 tbsp gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes)
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine the chicken paws, coarse sea salt, and soju in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and allow to marinate for half an hour. Drain and rinse under running water for at least 3 minutes. Drain and pat dry using a kitchen towel.
- Arrange the chicken paws inside a bamboo steamer. Cover and let the chicken paws cook until the meat is tender.
- While waiting for the chicken feet to cook, make the sauce. In a food processor, blend all the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.
- After cooking the chicken paws, toss them together with the sauce in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until the spicy sauce entirely coats the chicken paws. Cover and let it cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. That way, chicken paws can absorb all that flavor.
- You can now broil, grill, or pan-fry the chicken paws. Just cook the chicken paws for around 4 to 5 minutes per side. If you are going to grill them, cook them until the sides get a nice char. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped green onions.
How to Eat Chicken Paws?
Now, the next thing you might want to learn is what is the best way to eat chicken paws. Well, the answer is with either chopsticks or your hands.
You bite off the toes (it’s not as disturbing as you think). After that, suck the meat off the bones. Spit out the bones, and then enjoy the chewy and flavorful meat. It could get quite messy, so you might want to wear a bib while eating most chicken paw dishes.
Most chicken paw recipes make use of thick braising sauces. It is best to wear plastic gloves like those you use when eating hot wings. And speaking of hot, most chicken paw recipes are quite spicy so have a drink within arm’s reach.
Speaking of drinks, you can often serve chicken paws as snacks or as side dishes when drinking. One way to enjoy eating chicken feet is with a cold beer or a bottle of soju.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Chicken Paws
Why Do People Eat Them?
This stems from many Asian cultures where people use every part of the animal possible to lessen waste.
By far, chicken paw dishes are the least unusual in terms of the parts of the chicken used. Many cultures eat almost everything except the feathers, mostly in the East Asian and Southeast Asian regions.
What Do Chicken Paws Taste Like?
It is a part of a chicken; chicken paws taste just like chicken meat. However, the taste is a lot milder. The reason is that chicken paws mostly consist of connective tissues. Chicken paws almost always require braising in a flavorful cooking liquid.
Conclusion – Chicken Paws: What are They and the Best Chicken Paw Recipes
Technically, chicken paws are the same as chicken feet, only with the lower leg parts removed. Although Western cooking often discards chicken paws, it is a tasty delicacy in many Asian countries.
If you fancy yourself to be an adventurous eater, you should try chicken paw dishes as soon as possible. You won’t believe what you are missing. Moreover, you should also try cooking them yourself. They might take a while to prepare, but it will be well worth it.