Phoenix Claws (Chicken Feet)


Cantonese Jyutping
Mandarin Pinyin

Phoenix Claws (Chicken Feet)

As strange as this dish might sound, it is a common sight for dim sum. The edible part of the chicken feet is composed almost entirely of skin and tendon with very little, if any, meat. The name in Chinese means "Phoenix Claws", which should make some sense if you use your imagination. Typically found in a sauce flavored with black beans and bean paste, the skin is very tender and a properly prepared chicken feet will have the skin separate from the bone very easily.


Recipe - Phoenix Claws (Chicken Feet)

Method: stovetop

Difficulty: medium

Estimated Time: 2.5 hours

Servings: 2


  • 15 chicken feet
  • initial boil
    • 3.8 cups (900 ml) of water
    • 5 teaspoons of white vinegar
    • 0.2 ounces (5 grams) of brown sugar
  • marinade (part one)
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
    • 0.35 ounces (10 grams) of black bean sauce (A seasoning ingredient sold in jars.)
  • marinade (part two)
    • 0.4 cups (100 ml) of water
    • 0.07 ounces (2 grams) of salt
    • 0.35 ounces (10 grams) of white sugar
    • 0.2 ounces (5 grams) of chicken powder (also called chicken bouillon)
    • 0.25 ounces (7 grams) of corn starch
    • 0.25 ounces (7 grams) of low gluten wheat starch
    • 1.25 teaspoon (5 grams) of sesame oil
    • 5 teaspoons (20 grams) of oyster sauce
    • 1.5 teaspoon (7 grams) of dark soy sauce
  • 2 dried star anise
  • 1 quarter of a red bell pepper


  • Prepare the chicken feet by first rinsing them with water. Next, chop off all the nails if any are still present. Each chicken foot should have 4 toes. Cut them roughly in half lengthwise so that each half has 2 toes. Then rinse again with water.
  • Boil 3.8 cups (900 ml) of water in a pot, then add the chicken feet, brown sugar, and vinegar. Mix well and continue boiling for 2 minutes.
  • After 2 minutes, take the chicken feet out of the pot with a strainer and place into a bowl to cool for around 10 minutes.
  • Make sure the chicken feet are no longer dripping in water. Add some canola oil into a pot and heat to around 350 degrees fahrenheit (180 degrees celsius). Then fry the chicken feet until they are golden brown. Please note that you don't need a lot of oil. You just need enough so that the chicken feet can be mostly submerged into the oil. Alternatively, you can also opt to use an air fryer instead if that is more convenient. After the chicken feet are golden brown, take them out and set aside to cool.
  • Let's start preparing the 2 parts of the marinade. First, dice up the garlic cloves. Next, it's time for a quick saute. Heat up a pan, then add 2 tablespoons of canola oil, the diced garlic, and the black bean sauce. Saute while stirring until the garlic turns golden. Then set aside in a small bowl for later.
  • For the second part of the marinade, combine the corn starch and wheat starch in a separate bowl and mix with a little water. Clean off the pan from the previous step with a quick wipe, then, with it still hot, add 0.4 cups (100 ml) of water along with the salt, white sugar, chicken powder, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and the combined corn and wheat starch liquid mixture. Make sure to continually stir so that nothing sticks to the pan. Once the mixture starts looking like a thick sauce and isn't as watery, set aside in a small bowl for later.
  • Now let's return back to the chicken feet. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then add the star anise and the fried chicken feet in. You'll need enough water to completely submerge the chicken feet. Cook for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, take the chicken feet out of the pot with a strainer and rinse with cold water.
  • Place the chicken feet into a bowl and add the second part of the marinade (from step 6) in first. Mix well. Then add the first part of the marinade (from step 5) along with the sesame oil. Mix again so that all the chicken feet are evenly coated with the marinade.
  • Place the marinaded chicken feet onto a dish that can fit into a steamer. Chop the red bell pepper and sprinkle on top of the chicken feet for a bit of color. Then steam on high heat for 12 minutes. Traditionally, a bamboo steamer placed over a pot of boiling water would be used. However, if you don't have one, you can also just use any kind of metal rack as a tray to hold the dish of chicken feet above some boiling water. Make sure to cover the pot or steamer so that the chicken feet really bake in the steam.
  • Your chicken feet have transformed into phoenix claws and should now be all set to serve!
Bon Appétit!


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