The sekrit to making the best chicken soup is to add some chicken feet to the pot. In the old days, chickens had feet and heads, now they seem to grow in vats without them. Or maybe McDonald’s buys them all to make McNuggets. Eww.

During the snow storm last week, the supermarket had a really odd assortment of stuff, sold out of many normal items (gotta get the bread and milk…), but with some odd things they don’t normally even carry. The result being that I got 4 chicken leg quarts, and a 1 lb package of chicken feet, and made chicken soup. Just tossed the meat into the pressure pot with a carrot, onion, and stalk of celery. Cover with water and cook until the carrot is soft. For best results, chill overnight and skim off solid layer of fat.
But then I had a pile of boiled chicken feet left over. I felt bad throwing them out, but eating plain boiled feets was less than alluring. So I got the brilliant idea to turn them into Chinese style dim sum. They are often made with fermented black beans, but I don’t have any right now, so I googled around until I found this one:

I already had the cooked feets, so I skipped the first several steps, and started by browning 2 dried red chilies, 3 star anise, and a cinnamon stick in a teaspoon or so of oil. Then added a bunch of chopped garlic and ginger. Then made the sauce with a nice dollop of hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, miso (to get the fermented flavor that the black beans would have provided), mirin, chili paste with garlic, sriracha, and sherry. Added all that to the pot and brought to a boil, then threw in the feet and a couple of the legs/thighs, and let it reduce to a glaze-like consistency.

So damn good I ate it straight from the pan. The feet were tender and the bones just popped out of the slightly gelatinous meat. Diluted with the thigh/leg meat, it wasn’t gross at all, but full of flavor. So if you see them for sale at a supermarket near you, try it!

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