The dishes attempted for the purposes of this blog are from, or inspired by, the cook book "The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating," and its creator, Fergus Henderson.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Feet 'n Fungus

Dried black fungus, that is.  Didn't know you get that at your local Asian grocer?  Been searching all over town, and it was right there all this time?  Now, you know.  They also carry all of the chicken feet, or boneless duck feet at three times the price, you can eat.  Been overlooking this gem-of-the-Orient-into-your-neighborhood-transplant?  You shouldn't.  Just ask your Mexican neighbors, they're shopping there.  They know where to get the goods.  And, now, so do you.

You don't necessarily have to brave the unknown food supplyer of mysterious regions, however, in order to get your hands on some chicken feet.  These bizarre, but not as bizarre as you might think, treats are available at many, well known, super-chain grocery stores.  Found in the meat and poultry department, wrapped in cellophane, and looking like human baby hands, they are easily identifiable. 

If you dare to brave your local Asian grocer, the chicken feet can be located somewhere between the pig's uterus, and the beef tendon.  If you come upon the goat head, you've gone too far.

Apparently, there are many ways to cook a chicken foot (not to be confused with the rock-n-roller retiree band playing a 55+ community near you).  The method B has chosen to simmer them in coconut milk for 15 minutes.  To wich, green curry paste and water were added.  This mixture simmered two more hours, thus creating the base for a curry, which went on to be a separate dish, with onion, carrots, and black fungus.

The feet were then refrigerated for an hour to allowing the collagen to set (like Jell-o), and the feet to firm up.  B then tossed his feet, chicken feet, of course, in a soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic, sugar, hot sauce, lemon grass concoction.  Presently, they are in the oven.  When I asked him 'how long'?  His response was, "I have no idea." 

In the mean time, tofu and noodles have been added to the curry, and it is ready to eat.  Pret-a-manger, if you will.  This is being done for my benefit, because I am hungry.  HUNGRY.  I need to eat, and soon, even if it means opening a bag of chips.  Chiken feet be damned.  Did I mention how hungry I am?  If left to B, this process would take another two hours.  As it is, he started all of this yesterday.  Yesterday.

INTERLUDE:   As the noodles churn...

The following is quoted, word for word, from the noodle bag:

Put the noodle into boilng water, to simmer 2 minutes.  the noodle will automatic splitting, then stir the noodle, adding oil and vegetable, it is more tast if eating with meat or it can do as pan fry noodle, clipping up the noodle, after the water dried it can then fry.
Mmmm...My noodles and curry are dee-lish!  There is spice, from the dried hot chillies.  The black fungus, while not providing much in the way of flavor, offer much in the way of texture.  The tofu gives it balance in both, texture, and flavor (countering the spice and salt).  I am saphonsified. 

So is B.  He is gnawing on chicken foot bones as we speak.   He admits, they may not be worth the effort he has chosen to put into them, but, still, they are good.  Really good.  I have to admit, I can see the appeal.  I understand their allure, based on texture, flavorfulness, and versatility.  I am able to enjoy the taste, and even the texture (keeping in mind, you have to eat around all the little bones).  But these little guys really pack in the flavor.  They pack it in like a scrooge, travelling overseas, for six months, trying to fit it all into one suitcase in order to save money.  In other words, they have flavor!

How can I make this gooey goodness sound negative?  Simple.  I don't eat a lot of meat.  So, for me, this dish, meaning one foot, has the flavor of an entire chicken, multiplied by the amount of chicken I eat in a month, in a single bite.  That is to say, too much for me.  Not for others.  Like B.  B thinks it is the best thing he has ever eaten.  "The one, true, finger food."  (Get it?  Finger food?  Sorry, I couldn't resist.)  He loves the flavor.  Truly enjoys it.

B admits, maybe the method of preparation he chose isn't necessarily worth it.  But, think about it.  It enhanced the flavor of the curry, though subtly; they make great stock; AND they taste amazing (for you true carnivores) straight up.  What more do you need?

Probably, nothing.

B Says:

I spoke too soon.  It was worth it.  Completely and TOTALLY worth it.  The KFC aint got finger lickin' like this. At first I thought the effort was too much, then I ate a chicken foot palm (yes they have 'palms').  YUMMY.  I just ate 25+ feet and I want more.  Small bones yes. Sticky yes.  Very litle meat yes.  Not very filling, but that sticky-icky-gooey goodness.  Wow. 

Attention: If you have chicken feet, look out.  I am coming.

And I will find you.

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