Monday, October 29, 2007

China: Extreme Eats

I have to say that my whirlwind trip to Beijing and Shanghai brought me many delicious and memorable culinary experiences that I'll be telling you all about this week. The only really extreme eating I did, the kind that scared me, was on the last night there. I insisted on ordering chicken feet simmered in brown gravy. You see, one of the things I learned from a tour guide to the Great Wall of China was that China imports chicken feet and gizzards from the US. I believe this since chicken is really popular in the States (as it is everywhere) but most U.S. supermarkets do not carry these parts. The feet had to go somewhere, right?

Above you see the dish, 5 chicken feet in the promised brown gravy with broccoli. My adventurous spirit waned as soon as the waitress brought me the plate. The feet were much bigger than I had imagined. I had figured them to be half their actual size. And they looked fingery. Their slipperiness thwarted all my attempts to hold them up with chopsticks, which further weakened my resolve. But I tried them anyway. I finally got one foot within my chopsticks and lifted it up to my mouth. I bit off the middle finger from the top knuckle. It was...soft, kind of creamy. A bit like fat from slowly braised meat that becomes sort of gelatinous. The flavor was very good, very brown gravy-ish. I have to admit having exhausted all my desire to ever eat them again, but at least I tried it. Have you ever had anything like this? Did you like it?

12 Comments:

Blogger Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Man, I have to say my stomach actually turned reading your description!!! I am not a big fan of mystery meats, especially if it's gelatinous.

Although, I'd probably love chicken feet sausage...I'm kind of weird like that.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hai susan
i am suba from singapore. i need ur help in making mysore pak.

i tried today, but i am not sure of the final stage when to remove the the entire mixture of sugar ghee besan from the pan. eventhogh u u describe the end stage as molte lava,i colud not picture it. so my mysore pak is not at alla hard, it is very soft. i am loking for slightly hard version, can u please enlihten my .

can i increase the sugar quantity to 1 full cup.

my email address is elephant18@gmail.com.

eargly awaiting for ur email.

bye

regards
suba

12:49 PM  
Blogger Valli said...

Good for you for being so adventurous Susan! I have tried many different things in my life time and will try most things once. When in Chinatown in clagry I once had a Preserved Meats Hot Pot. Sad to say I didn't eat some of the mystery meats. We eat with our eyes and our nose as well..and I wasn't being adventurous!

1:28 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Susan!

Welcome back, I have been so looking forward to your China trip posts! I have never eaten chicken feet, but when I was in Malaysia I saw the locals eat it all the time. I just couldn't bring myself to taste any, you are so much more adventurous than I could ever be Susan. BTW, what a delightful description of your meal, I so enjoyed reading it!

8:28 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Sara, Yep. The idea of adventure is sometimes better than the reality.

Hi Suba, Ooh, Mysore Pak is tough but worth it. Thanks for trying it out. I'll e-mail you with some suggestions.

Hi Valli, Preserved meats hot pot, huh? I'm thinking super thin slices of spam going into the boiling broth. Was it anything like that? Actually my best meal in China was Mongolian hot pot. I'll write about it soon.

Hi Lotus, Chicken feet are kinda big in Latin America too. There's a Colombian soup with them inside. Thanks for making me feel adventurous. I'd be prouder if I'd ended up liking chicken feet.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Beenzzz said...

You are one brave woman! I wouldn't have had the nerve to do it. I get disturbed by cutting into raw meat sometimes when I have to prepare a dish. I know, how wimpy can I get?

2:20 AM  
Blogger J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm way too afraid to try anything like that...color me totally impressed!

3:19 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Welcome back, Susan! I have had chicken feet at a dim sum restaurant here in LA. They did nothing for me. I didn't enjoy spitting out the tiny bones. Like you, I'm glad I tried them, but don't ever need them again. I can't wait to hear more about your trip.

4:41 AM  
Blogger hellomelissa said...

oh, i'll eat just about anything. but on survivor last week they had to eat fetal chickens and that grossed me out.

i've tried chickens feet and have eaten whole baby octupus, and that goat-foot stew in spain was pretty funny, too.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Beenzzz, A friend once pointed out to me that it makes no sense for me to be deathly afraid of spiders but totally willing to dig into a plate of shrimp scampi with the heads, tails, legs and all. I guess we've all got stuff like that.

Hi J., The guys we ate with finished their feet while I only had one bite. And their chopstick manoeuvers were excellent.

Hi Christina, How were the feet served? Were they in a gravy? I can't help thinking that they'd be so much better deep fried and crispy with a spicy dipping sauce.

1:12 PM  
Blogger ML said...

I'm not sure I could eat chicken feet. The looks of them are enough to send me running.

I can imagine they're similar in texture of creaminess to oxtails that have been braised for a really long time? Just curious.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Stelle in Italia said...

good for you for being adventurous and trying the (American) chicken foot! I can't believe it was so big--the picture makes it look like an enormous foot! what chicken is it from :)? anyway, glad you had some good food in China! Can't wait to hear more about it!

jackie

11:32 AM  

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