Dakbal - Gastro Obscura
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Prepared Foods

Dakbal

South Korean eateries serve these intensely spicy chicken feet in luscious piles, with plenty of soju.

Imagine chewing on a sunflower seed. You pop the shell open, fiddle out the meaty bit, collect the rest behind your front teeth, then spit it out. Now imagine that instead pieces of salted shell, you’re finessing the bones of a chicken foot away from your savory snack.

Koreans call it dakbal. Chopped at the ankle, these chicken feet are served in luscious piles. First-time tasters will discover that the most challenging elements of dakbal are navigating the intense spice and many delicate bones. Some restaurants offer a deboned option, but fans of the snack-tivity prefer it served whole. Cooks broil or grill dakbal table-side, over a fire. Either option ends with a dousing of tongue-numbing gochujang, crushed peanuts, and rice or lettuce wraps on the side. Chopsticks are no match for the sinewy meat, so some diners wear disposable gloves to prevent the feet from staining their hands. Seasoned eaters just pop the whole foot in their mouth, then spit out the tiny bones as they chew.

Restaurants make no effort to obscure the appearance of this clawed delicacy—unless you count the amount of soju they serve with the dish.

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