A couple of months ago, on the same
trip when I tried sweetbreads (see March 20th, 2014 post), I got a chance to try duck feet. My friend (Hi Keith) got a sizable to go
order from a Chinese restaurant, and they threw in a bonus tub. When we looked, it turned out to be the duck
feet. I’d heard of eating chicken feet,
but not those of ducks. At the time we
weren’t entirely sure that it wasn’t a prank, to see if we would eat them. Washington
The restaurant wasn’t playing a joke on us, as it happens. Duck feet are considered a delicacy in some Asian cuisines, including
China’s. Braising or frying them is common, although
the ones I got were apparently boiled.
I also learned a few tidbits about this body part. For starters, there’s the nomenclature. Pig’s feet are referred to as “trotters,” and many animals’ feet are called hoofs. So technically, this post should be labeled duck palmates, as it is for many other aquatic birds. The Urban Dictionary has a definition for “duck feet” as well, and surprisingly, it’s not a repellent carnal act. They define duck feet as, “Feet that are just too big, flat, or awkward for regular walking. Shoes don’t fit properly and dancing is impossible.” Finally, “I Wish That I Had Duck Feet,” is a book title from one of my favorite children’s authors—Dr. Seuss. I thought I’d read pretty much everything he’d written, but now I see that I missed at least one.
Anyway, I tried a duck foot immediately, out on the street, cold. It was weird looking. Duck feet are webbed, of course, and that’s basically what there was to eat, along with a thin layer of skin over the bones. The texture was a little rubbery. The taste was kind of neither here nor there. Not bad, but not especially good, either. I ate a couple that night. The next day we tried them with a sauce that Keith made (I forget what it was exactly, but some kind of spicy brown sauce). (Edit: Keith kindly informed me that this sauce, often used for dumplings, was made from rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar.) It was an improvement, but didn’t change the major problem. People often complain that chicken wings don’t have any meat on them, but duck feet make wings look like entire Thanksgiving turkeys. Or, to use another food example, it was somewhat akin to getting meat from a whole crab or lobster. (Only these are very tasty.) So I would try pre-picked “duck feet cakes,” but eating it off the bone again wouldn’t be worth it.