As culinary challenges go, this one was plucking outrageous. But it certainly gave me claws for thought. OK, I’ll stop now.
I’ve been sent some chicken feet and cow peas by luxury travel company Cox & Kings, who organise tailor-made holidays to all corners of the globe. It’s not exactly one of their luxury holidays I was hoping for, but one day, one day! Anyway, a gift’s a gift and you can’t be ungrateful in these austere times so this housedad went to work.
For the unitiated amongst us – and I count myself very much amongst us – chicken feet are a delicacy in China. As are cow peas. But I didn’t know any of that until I a pack of each arrived in the post. If you ever found yourself in the Orient, instead of opting for your usual Westernised chicken and cashew nuts or chilli beef, you would very likely find chicken feet and cow peas on the menu.
Well, if they’re good enough for 1 billion Chinese folks, they’ve gotta be good enough for a Reluctant Housedad. Emphasis on the ‘reluctant’, especially on this occasion.
‘What’s for dinner?’ my Working Wife asked me after a hard day at the coal face.
‘Chicken,’ I replied.
‘Yum,’ said she.
‘Er, ok. But great, I’m starving.’
Somehow I neglected to omit the words ‘feet’ and ‘cow’ from the description, but hey-ho, I like to live on the edge.
So, what do you do with chicken feet and cow peas?
Well, the latter was easy – and actually, extremely tasty. The cow peas came in a chilli bean sauce. Just heat them up and prepare to set fire to your tastebuds. But despite the fieriness, they were lovely. Think green beans in a spicy tomato sauce.
But the chicken feet were an altogether different – let’s say incomparable – experience. I didn’t have a clue what to do with them, but I thought deep-frying them in a tempura batter might make them finger lickin’ good, so I prepared the batter with a splash of fizzy water and a little salt and then dipped my feet into it. Not literally.
A couple of minutes later and there they were, in all their gnarly glory. And to be honest, they didn’t look too unappetising.
The first crunch was gloriously chickeny – savoury and sweet at the same time. But there wasn’t a second crunch. So meagre is the meat on these extremities that the only thing to do next was suck. Suck the tiny amount of meat off the bones, suck the gelatinous tendons.
Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. No, chicken feet would not be my snack du jour, but they filled my mouth with umami – that savoury taste you get with Marmite and other love-them-or-hate-them savoury food products – and served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce, they were actually very pleasant, though not enough meat on them.
But the one thing I couldn’t get past were the claws. I ended up with a toenail stuck between my teeth, and although useful as a suitable toothpick, the experience put me in mind of being a Z-list celeb on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.
Or in my case, I’m a housedad…get me the pluck out of here.
Disclaimer: As I said, this is a sponsored post, but the recipe is my own and the results are spectacular. For more information about China and many more tailor-made luxury holidays, go tohttp://www.coxandkings.co.uk