Cartilage, anyone?
May 18, 2012 10:55 AM   Subscribe

This might sound totally gross, but...where can a girl get her chicken cartilage fix?

So, for unknown reasons, I adore eating chicken cartilage. Whenever I make chicken, that's one of the first things I go for, much to the disgust of my partner. However, unless I'm making chicken soup - and hence have a large number of chicken legs available at once - my ability to satisfy this particular craving is low.

Are there any ways a girl could get her crunch on that doesn't involve cooking up mass quantities of chicken on a regular basis? I can't possibly be the only one that enjoys this, can I?
posted by amyshmamy to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you ever had chicken feet at a dim sum restaurant? those might scratch the itch.
posted by KathrynT at 10:56 AM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Chicken feet is pretty cartilage heavy and super common in Chinese cuisine. I like getting the kind deep fried and doused in spicy sweet garlic sauce at dim sum.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:57 AM on May 18, 2012

Have you tried Chicken Feet?

I can get them at H-Mart here in Atlanta, but any Asian grocery can get them for you.

Or go to an authentic Dim Sum place.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:58 AM on May 18, 2012

If there's an authentic Japanese yakitori place near you, cartilage is a standard variety -- called nankotsu.
posted by neroli at 11:04 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ramen places and taiwanese tea shops often have it in various formats. Often called "chicken knees"
I also 2nd Dim Sum, but its usually stewed until goopy.
posted by captaincrouton at 11:09 AM on May 18, 2012

You could make bbq chicken feet. Pick some up at your local grocer. Douse them in garlic. Put them on the grill and watch them. Serve with soy sauce, onions, and whatever else you like.
posted by andendau at 11:11 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hi, my name is Miss Kitty Fantastico, and I'm also a (closet) cartilage freak.

Chicken feet for sure! Izakaya (sorta like Japanese tapas bars) have cartilage dishes.

If you make chicken stock with chicken backs (Asian and Kosher grocers often have these for cheap), there's a piece of cartilage in the middle of the back bone (bad at chicken anatomy, sorry) that gets soft enough to eat after simmering for a couple hours. Not as tasty as the prepared cartilage dishes above, of course, but pure crunchy pleasure.

Pan-fried/grilled chicken gizzards & hearts have a similar (but softer) snap & crunch texture that I love. If you have an Asian supermarket, you can often buy this pre-made, but otherwise there are recipes online for how to prepare (don't do the slow braise/simmer techniques, you want the faster-cooking styles). Cheap too, but high in cholesterol.

If you haven't already tried it, you may also enjoy beef tendon (same 'resistance' toothiness as cartilage, but instead of hard/crunchy, it's unctuous and a little silky. I love it. You can get beef tendon in Vietnamese Pho, or in some Chinese soup noodle dishes.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 11:12 AM on May 18, 2012

mmmm....this all sounds heavenly! Keep those suggestions coming! (and recipes for chicken feet, if anyone has them, would be greatly welcomed!)
posted by amyshmamy at 11:23 AM on May 18, 2012

I put a pound of chicken feet in a pie plate, cover it all with black bean sauce and steam it for ten or fifteen minutes. Super easy and very tasty.

I finished lunch half an hour ago and and now hungry again. Thanks MetaFilter.
posted by advicepig at 11:52 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Duck feet is pretty awesome when done right and are full of cartilage.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I find pigs ears have a nice cartlidgy bite and feel to them. I like them sliced thing and deep fried to make a snack, also love the crackling on a pork roast. I know it's not chicken but it does have a similar feel.
posted by wwax at 12:03 PM on May 18, 2012

+1 for Izakaya. Honda Ya in Los Angeles makes great chicken cartilage skewers.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:38 PM on May 18, 2012

Oooh, wongcorgi's post reminds me of duck tongue (with apologies to those who are squicked out by this kind of thing). I've had it in a Chinese/Cantonese preparation, in a soy-sauced braised dish. Each tongue is about 2" long, and there's not much meat to speak of (mostly skin). The back half of the tongue is bone, and the front half is all crunchy cartilage. Delicious!
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 12:47 PM on May 18, 2012

Chicken and duck feet, beef tendons, pigs ears, and all sorts of other West-unusual cuts are available from bigger Asian markets.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:48 PM on May 18, 2012

One thing about chicken feet. Cut off the claws!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:19 PM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're going to go for pho, try the cut of meat whose name gets translated into English as "crunchy flank." I have never been entirely clear on what it is — or, like, which part of the cow it corresponds to — but it comes with wonderful little crunchy bits of connective tissue interspersed with the meat and is basically the best thing ever.

Barbecue beef/pork ribs also often come with some lovely pieces of cartilege around the ends. They tend to soften a bit through the slow cooking, so they're not really crunchy but still have some nice spring to them.

And there's chicken wing tips. The third joint (normally cut off if you get like Buffalo wings, but sometimes left on at the supermarket) is basically all skin and bone, and the bone is thin enough that you can chomp right through it, and it is heavenly.

You might also enjoy the bits of bone in canned salmon. Normally fish bone isn't edible because it's too sharp and pointy (seriously, don't try it, you can actually injure yourself) but these little guys are softened in the canning process so that they end up totally edible, and they have this lovely gentle calcium-ish crunch to them.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:36 PM on May 18, 2012

And check out this Chowhound thread for further inspiration. Though some of it is about the joys of melty gelatinous slow-cooked cartilage, which is an entirely different pleasure.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2012

Texture is quite important in Chinese food. You're in luck, because the springy texture of cartilage is valued more than its taste, which is usually whatever it's been soaking in.

Drop by your local authentic-looking dim sum place. It's going to be large, crowded, and full of Chinese people yelling at each other. I might be there animatedly yelling with my family. On one of the passing carts, you'll find fung zaau, or "pheonix talons". These are chicken feet.

If you're white, the lady pushing the cart may give you a confused look as if to say "are you really going to eat that?", or she might snicker thinking you are really going to eat that. I always order them if I'm taking a dim sum newbie or sheltered friend because chewing on chicken feet gets a rise out of them. What's more likely is that she's going to impassively stamp your card and go back to hawking her wares. Bring some friends, dim sum is far more enjoyable with a big table. (Try the shrimp dumplings.)

As said upthread, you might also like the texture of tendon. Look for noodle soup dishes with "牛筋", that's beef tendon. At any pho restaurant, include "gan" (tendon), or just order the "dac biet" special which includes all kinds of springy goodness.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 4:54 PM on May 18, 2012

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