Pickled chickens’ feet

Pickled chickens’ feet

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

We are always fascinated by packaged Chinese travel snacks whenever we catch a long-distance bus or train. Where we might yearn for a bag of potato crisps or a handful of liquorice allsorts, the Chinese munch on an assortment of vac-packed, salted, smoked, cured and pickled animal parts, including chickens’ feet. We saw big drums of cold pickled chickens’ feet for sale in markets in Chengdu and other cities; the ultimate convenience food for housewives too busy to make their own. Not that they take that long.


Quantity Ingredient
1kg chickens’ feet
2 carrots, peeled
375ml clear rice vinegar
115g caster sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 small red onion, halved and finely sliced
6 Pickled chillies
coriander leaves, to serve


  1. Using a sharp knife, trim the nail ends off each claw, then trim about 1.5 cm from the bone end of each foot. Place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer, using an inverted plate to keep them submerged if necessary, and cook over a medium–low heat for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and refresh under cold water. Transfer to a nonreactive bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the carrots in half lengthwise, then thinly slice each half on the diagonal. Combine the vinegar, sugar, 250 ml water and the carrots in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved, then remove the pan from the heat. Cool slightly, then add the sesame oil.
  3. Pour the carrot mixture over the chickens’ feet in the bowl, add the onion and chillies and toss to combine well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature, tossing the feet occasionally, for 2–3 hours to allow the flavours to develop. Transfer to a platter, scatter with coriander leaves and serve.
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