Forget Deep Frying – My Air Fryer Tiger Skin Chicken Feet Will Have You Begging for More

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Craving Dim Sum But Short on Time? Make Air Fryer Tiger Skin Chicken Feet Instead

Have you ever heard the Chinese phrase “食得皮膚飛”? It literally translates to “eating until your tiger skin flies” and refers to feasting so heartily that you shed your stress like a tiger shedding its coat. For me, the ultimate way to achieve this level of relaxation is by indulging in one of my favorite dim sum treats – tiger skin chicken feet!

On the surface, stewed chicken feet might not sound that appetizing to the uninitiated. But hear me out – these gelatinous nuggets of collagen are like a little ball of comfort in your mouth. The gentle chew gives way to a luxurious texture that’s meltingly soft with just a hit of bouncy resistance. Paired with the savory richness of the cooking liquid and a dip in soy sauce, it’s culinary bliss, I tell you.

After sampling various chicken feet dishes over the years, I’ve concluded that the best version is a long simmered, stewed preparation. The low and slow cooking method ensures the skin and cartilage relax into Fall-off-the-bone tenderness. When you do this, you get plump feet that are deeply infused with flavor, whether Chinese five spice, star anise or garlic is used.

And so you know, for years I turned my nose up at those air fryers claiming to achieve the greatness of deep frying with just a fan. “Yeah right,” I scoffed. But since embracing a slightly “lazier” lifestyle, my curiosity was piqued about their potential. So when I saw chicken feet at the market, I thought “Why not see if the air fryer can achieve tiger skin status!”

What you’ll need for Air Fried Tiger Skin Chicken Feet:

  • 1 kilo chicken feet
  • 2 thumbs smashed ginger
  • 1/2 minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup salted black beans
  • 1 tbsp honey or sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed in cold water

So the contested step here is deep frying. The usual steps apply including parboiling but except the deep frying. If you have tried this before, the reason why people are averse to making it is because of the inevitable explosions and skin burn when deep frying the chicken feet. This is no matter how much you have dried your chicken feet before frying.

Not gonna lie, air frying the chicken feet is still laborious but totally worth it!

Clean up the chicken feet first. Here are my tips for prepping air fryer tiger skin chicken feet:

How to clean chicken feet:

  1. Rinse the feet under cold water to remove any feathers or dirt. Soak them for 10 mins if they seem more grime-laden than usual.
  2. Remove the top yellowish skin for each foot. Trim away nails if it wasn’t removed yet..
  3. Swish the feet around to rinse away loosened debris. Drain thoroughly in a colander.
  4. For extra freshness, spritz them lightly with white vinegar or lemon juice. Let air dry on a wire rack while you prep other ingredients.

Proper feet cleaning is crucial for those later seeking a state of bliss from eating them! (now that is strangely wrong, omg!) Anywhodle, I’ve perfected my foot washing technique over years of trial and yum.

Forget Deep Frying - My Air Fryer Tiger Skin Chicken Feet Will Have You Begging for More 1

After cleaning, you got to parboil the feet for further removal of bad odors.

How to Parboil Chicken Feet

Bring a few liters of water to boil and then drop the chicken feet. Let boil for 20-30 minutes. Drain and let cold water flow over it. Dry the skin with some kitchen towels then set to dry in a drainer for an hour or two. This is a very important step especially if you’re going to go the extra mile of still deep frying the chicken feet after air frying. Crazy, right?

How to cook Air Fried Tiger Skin Chicken Feet

After drying, I arranged the feet in a single layer while I preheated the Hanabishi air fryer to 400°F / 190 C. Air fry for about 15 minutes until you see blisters on your chicken feet. Turn over to the other side and do the same thing for another 15 minutes.

The air fryer’s convection heating and swirling hot air work wonders. Could this be the new-and-improved Tiger Skin Chicken Feet Holy Grail? Proper deep frying and stewing still has its place but for a quick weeknight fix, these fit the bill. No air fryer yet and considering buying one? Check out my air fryer review here!

After frying, soak the chicken in cold water -a minimum two hours but preferably overnight. See? I told you it’s gonna be long. But again, if you’re a dimsum fan, this is nonmatter.

Once again, bring a pot of water to a boil and put in the chicken feet. I know it’s long but stay with it! You’re going to be rewarded with the best chicken feet you had in a long while without having to go to a Chinese restaurant! This time were going to let them chicken feet boil for 12-15 minutes -depending on how soft you want them to be. This will be the deciding step for making that tiger skin effect.

Making the Tiger Skin Chicken Feet Sauce

While that is boiling, let’s prepare the sauce and coating. Saute ginger and garlic in a little oil. Add the black beans, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine, honey, and sesame oil. Pour in water with cornstarch and let boil. Add the just boiled chicken feet Coat well, and serve! If you’re like me who’s always craving for these tiger chicken feet, make larger batches and then re-steam them for the next serving.

Some key signs you’ve found the real Tiger Skin Chicken Feet Holy Grail:

  • The chicken feet are so soft and supple they practically dissolve on your tongue.
  • A gelatinous buildup in the bowl shows how much collagen was lovingly extracted.
  • One or two pieces are incredibly satisfying – you don’t need many!
  • The natural savory-sweet notes transport you to a calm, contented place.

Next time you’re craving a soothing sodium-filled snack (lol), try out these tiger skin chicken feet. For you air fryer skeptics out there, I say give these Air Fried Tiger Skin Chicken Feet a try. You just may find your new lazy-girl dim sum craving. Curl up and allow the gentle pleasures of this uhmm “intriguing” ingredient to melt your stress away. Your tiger skin will be flying in no time flat!

Let me know if you try these magic meaty morsels. I’d love to hear your verdict on whether they earn the title of your new Tiger Skin Chicken Feet Holy Grail. In the meantime, enjoy the relaxation!

Until next time. xoxo


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