This Chinese Chicken Feet Soup with Peanuts recipe is easy, thick, deliciously savory and rich in collagen. 15 minutes of prep followed by passive cooking then, Hello, younger-looking skin!
Why Make This
- It's a super rich and flavorful broth: you'd be surprised but the best bone broths usually include less-than-popular-parts like chicken feet or pork trotters as there is so much collagen in them. The chicken skin in this soup is so soft, it will literally melt in your mouth!
- Cheap to make: Chicken's feet, also known as Phoenix Claws or 鳳爪 fèng zhǎo, are definitely an acquired taste. There's not as much demand for them (even a lot of younger Asians get scared off by the look!) so they're usually the cheaper parts of the chicken. Some butchers even give them away for free! (If you're not fond of the feet, just remove them before serving the soup- most of the goodness has already gone into the stock anyway!)
- All-natural Comfort Food: Like my ginseng chicken soup recipe, no chicken stock or bouillon needed to make this tonic soup naturally umamilicious and sweet (without added sugar.) However, it's more affordable since no ginseng is used!
Note: I am not a medical professional. This information is FYI only- please consult a qualified health or medical practitioner for more info. Also some of the studies have small sample sizes, so need further verification.
Keeps your skin looking its best
Chicken Feet Soup (雞腳汤 Ji Jiao Tang) is nutritious and has a high collagen content (about 70% of its protein!) Chinese Grandmothers have always credited eating foods rich in collagen for their good skin, and this has now been backed up by research.
There is some evidence that eating collagen will help keep your skin looking youthful. For example, a research team found that regular intake of collagen improved cellulite. Another study found that taking oral collagen supplements helps wound healing and skin aging and was generally safe (specifically making the skin more elastic and hydrated.)
Chicken feet are also rich in folate or vitamin B9. (This aids DNA synthesis and prevents birth abnormalities.)
May reduce joint pain
Some studies show that collagen supplementation can promote tissue regeneration and thus reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Another found that consuming Hydrolysed Collagen helps degenerative joint and bone diseases.
Undenatured type II collagen (UC-II), a supplement made from chicken sternum cartilage, has been specifically found to help knee joint pain for those with knee Osteoarthritis.
Collagen has also been linked to:
- preventing bone loss, especially in postmenopausal women.
- My friend's gynaecologist actually recommended drinking more bone broth, especially if one is anaemic!
- controlling blood sugar
- this time it's the chicken feet proteins and not specifically the collagen at work!
- good for the heart
Unlike the typical chicken feet preparation, this recipe simmers and doesn't fry, so it's a healthier way for you to derive the benefits!
The key ingredients you will need are:
- chicken feet: If you don't have enough chicken feet, you can supplement with chicken wings, which also have lots of gelatin. On its own, chicken feet doesn't give the soup a very chicken-y taste. If you want that, you can add more chicken bones and chicken meat. The meat will give the Chicken Feet Soup lots of flavor but, after so many hours of simmering, will be tough and bland at the end.
- raw peanuts: peanuts with or without skin works, but don't use the salted ones, or your Chicken Feet Peanut Soup may be too salty.
- dried scallops: these (and the kelp) give the soup enough umami that you don't need to use chicken stock/ bouillon, so don't skimp on them! If you can't get dried scallops, you can use dried squid or 1 of these dried conpoy alternatives. Make sure you only add the kelp at the end, as boiling it for too long can make the soup bitter
- jujubes: these make the soup naturally sweet. Alternatively, you can substitute with honey dates or supplement with carrots. If you have too many of these dried dates, you can use them in longan red date tea or 1 of these Chinese red date recipes, such as this herbal Silkie Chicken Soup. (Honey dates and jujubes have large seeds which need to be removed.)
- wolfberries: also known as goji berries, these are great for your eyes. They cook quickly so you can add them at the end with the kelp if you want to keep the nice bright red color. However, I'm sometimes lazy and add them right from the start! Extra can be used for wolfberry tea, osmanthus jelly or 1 of these easy wolfberry recipes.
Where to Buy
You can get the ingredients at most Chinese or Asian grocery stores.
If not, your local butcher should be able to order some chicken feet for you- he might even give it to you for free if you live somewhere a chicken foot is not usually eaten! (I used to get free pork bones from the amazing Ginger Pig at Borough Market.)
Chicken feet freeze well so go ahead and order a huge batch!
- For even more umami: add pork bones- blanch and boil them as per the chicken feet. (Pork trotters or pork neck bones are great!) Alternatively, you can just use unsalted pork stock (so you would boil the chicken feet, dried scallops etc in it.) You can also add fresh lotus root, which goes super well with pork. Add it to the pot at the same time you do the dried scallops and peanuts (i.e. right from the beginning.)
- For more fibre and protein: add black eyed peas and/ or dried yam to the pot right from the start too.
- For more sweetness: you can add some carrots or dried figs (right at the start) to your Chinese Chicken Feet Peanut Soup.
How to Clean
- In the rare cases that the chicken feet still has its tough outer yellow skin, boil for 20 seconds. After that, the skin should peel off easily.
- Scrub the chicken feet well with salt then rinse well. (Pay attention to the part underneath the toe pads as it tends to collect dirt.)
- Lastly, snip off any dark spots and long claws with kitchen scissors. (You can throw the nails away.)
Note: If you don't remove the nails, they sometimes fall off during the simmering and you might get an unpleasant sharp surprise when drinking the soup! They actually contain a lot of collagen, so if you don't mind them falling off, feel free to leave them on!
4. Put the cleaned chicken feet in a pot and cover with cold water.
5. Bring to a boil then boil for 2-3 minutes before draining the water.
Note: Blanching helps to remove any off odours so don't skip this step when cooking with chicken feet. It will also create a clearer soup.
6. Rinse the chicken feet with cold water (it may have grey scum stuck onto it- look how much scum is produced above!)
Tip: Don't blanch for too long or you'll lose the flavor!
Cooking the soup
7. Add the chicken feet into a clean pot with the rest of the ingredients except the kelp. (You can add the goji berries now, as I did above, or leave it for the last 15 minutes for a finer soup.)
8. Bring back to the boil then lower to a simmer.
9. Let the soup simmer for at least another 2.5 hours. Some scum and foam may be produced along the way, just skim it off the top with a spoon. (You may also see some oil, as shown in the photo above, from the skin of the chicken. Just leave it as fat is a flavor carrier! If you find it too oily, the fat will solidify at the top and can be easily removed after cooling.)
10. 15 minutes before you want to serve the soup, add the kelp (and wolfberries if not yet added) then season to taste.
Enjoy and serve!
How to Serve
Chinese Chicken Feet Soup goes well with a bowl of white rice of any of these delicious Cantonese dishes.
It keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Alternatively, you can freeze it for a few weeks.
Reheat to the boil- the soup will actually taste better this way!
Note: it will solidify into a jelly after cooling in the fridge.
Don't panic! That's actually a sign that you did it right and extracted all the collagen out of the chicken claws! (Just re-heat and it will turn back into a nice lip-smacking liquid bone broth.) If yours doesn't gel, you may have added too much water or not cooked it for long enough.
Tip #1: If you want your peanuts to be softer, you can soak them for 2hours- overnight in the fridge before boiling in the Chinese Chicken Soup.
Tip #2: Chicken feet are also great for making a gelatinous stock or aspic. (The stock made from chicken feet has a unique creamy flavor.) Any extra claws you have on hand can be simmered for 5-6 hours to make chicken stock (or kept to make braised chicken feet dim sum.) (Note: The chicken foot soup may become bitter if you cook it for too long (we're talking about more than 14 hours here!)
Tip #3: If you have a slow cooker, Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you can use those to make the Chinese Chicken Feet Soup with Peanuts. However, the ingredients will break down and your soup won't be as clear and smooth.
Well this Chinese Chicken Foot Soup recipe is mainly hands-off, passive cooking. However, if you really need the chicken broth in a rush, you can cheat with pre-cooked chicken or pork stock (this will replace the water in the recipe) and chicken bouillon powder. Follow the steps above for cleaning and blanching the chicken claws. After that, put all the ingredients in the pot along with chicken bouillon powder and boil for 40 minutes. (Use ¼ Tablespoon of chicken bouillon for every 5 Cups of chicken stock.)
The process which removes the feathers- scalding- typically removes the tough yellow skin, so you should get nice pink feet, which do not need to be peeled. If, by some chance, your chicken feet do come with the yellow outer skin, you can clean them and leave them on (soak in a water-vinegar mix for 5-10 minutes before rinsing) OR remove them by briefly boiling them for a few seconds, then dump in a cold bath (The skin peels right off after. Don't boil for too long or the skin will stick!)
Suggested Accompanying Recipes
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Chinese Chicken Feet Soup with Peanuts
- Kitchen scissors Substitute: knife and chopping board
- Big pot (Ideally 2, but if you only have 1, that works too.)
- 2.2 lb chicken feet 1 kg
- 8 Cups water Substitute: chicken stock
- ½ Cup Raw peanuts With or without skin is OK but don't use salted ones. If you want them soft, soak them for 2h-overnight (in the fridge) before cooking. The soaking water can be tossed.
- 10-12 Dried Scallops Soaked in hot water for 30 minutes. Keep the soaking water. Substitute: dried squid or 1 of these dried scallop substituteshttps://www.greedygirlgourmet.com/red-dates-ginger-and-dried-longan-tea-recipe/
- 8 Jujubes With the pits removed- if you're not sure how to remove the jujube seeds, check out this post.
- 8 cloves garlic No need to peel
- 5 slices Ginger No need to peel
- 6 pieces Dried kelp with each piece measuring 1 inch by 1 inch. (There may be white powder on the kelp- don't wash those off, simply use a damp cloth to remove any dirt or dust.)
- 1-2 Tablespoon Wolfberries Rinsed
- Salt, to taste Different brands of dried scallops will have different saltiness so the amount of salt needed will vary. I usually use about 1 teaspoon. Do not skip the salt or the soup will be tasteless!
Clean the chicken feet
- Snip off the nails on each chicken foot.
- Scrub the chicken feet and make sure any dirt on it is removed.
- Put the chicken feet in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then let it boil for 2-3 minutes before draining the water.
- Rinse the chicken feet with cold water (it may have scum stuck onto it.)
Cooking the Chicken Feet Soup
- Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for 2 hours 15 minutes (Or more if you want to cook the chicken feet for longer- the longer you cook, the more collagen is released and the more gelatinous the soup.)
- After 2 hours 15 minutes (or 15 minutes before you want to serve the soup), add the dried kelp and wolfberries and simmer for 15 minutes. Don't simmer the kelp for too long or it will make the soup bitter.
- Season to taste then switch off the fire and serve.
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