Food Gold: Vietnamese Hot Wings

Posted on Feb 9th, 2010 in Food Gold by Elliot Aronow

For this week’s Food Gold, OG columnist Sammy Bananas is back with a cluckin’ awesome recipe, check it out!

Howdy errybody, long time no see!  I’m back to grace the Food Gold annals with an exciting recipe, but first I need to give mega props to my dog Elliot Aronow for taking the reigns of this horse and turning it into a damn Pegasus!  Near-weekly recipes? Videos? This guy is killing it, and hopefully making you eat well in the process.

On to the recipe:  Everyone loves a good ol’ fashioned spicy chicken wing, am I right?  They’re small, they’re gooey, they’re just finger lickin’ good. Around this time last year, I sampled some delectable wings at the amazing Thai restaurant Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon.  These wings weren’t so much food as spicy meat lollipops, but somehow they transcended mere sugariness or hotness and fused the sweet/salty/spicy/sour matrix into an enchanting singularity.

A word of caution: this recipe definitely falls in the intermediate cooking category, if only because it takes two days and involves the words “Deep Fry” and “Fish Sauce”. Luckily, that d-bag Guy Fieri from the TGIF commercials recently stopped by Pok Pok and went through this recipe step by step (though rapidly!) with head chef Andy Ricker. It’s definitely worth watching this video if you’re planning on making these.

Superb Owl Vietnamese Hot Wings

The Meat:
3 Pounds Chicken wings

The Marinade:
4 cloves garlic
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Fish Sauce (get one that has Vietnamese or Thai writing on it. I hear the one with the three crabs on it is the best)
1 Cup Sugar

The Fry
1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil
A big pot, preferably heavy duty
3 cups rice flour (Why, because this is an Asian recipe? NO! Because rice flour doesn’t clump like wheat flour does, and we want the thinnest coating possible.)

The Sauce:
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons thai garlic chilli sauce (I used the one that’s made by the rooster sauce sriracha company, has visible chili seeds in it, and comes in a container about the size of one of those weird mini sodas you get on european airplanes. It looks like this).

DAY 1
1. Wash the wings in cold water to de-gunk.  Carefully wield your sharpest knife and chop each wing at the two joints producing two pieces of meat that look like something you eat, and one little wing tip for the trash.

2. Dice the garlic and mix with salt in a small bowl. Let it stand for a few minutes.  This will help draw some of the liquid out of the garlic, which is the only thing we want here.  Mix with the water and then strain garlic juice through a cheese cloth into a large mixing bowl.  Discard cloth and chopped garlic.

3. Add the fish sauce and sugar to the mixing bowl with your garlic juice and whisk thoroughly.  You want to get all the sugar dissolved, so you might have to whisk for a while and take a couple breaks if you have no arm strength, like me.

4. Toss the chopped wings in the marinade until fully coated and then transfer into a large covered container for storage in the fridge overnight.  WASH YOUR HANDS REAL WELL YOU JUST FONDLED RAW MEAT.

DAY 2
5. Add the oil into the pot and heat over high heat.  You want the oil to get REAL hot (technically 350 degrees), and this will probably take about 20 minutes of heating depending on the strength of your burner and the insulation of your pot.  If you’re using a conventional gas burner, it’s gonna be hard to get your oil TOO hot, so be more worried about it being too cold which will lead to oily and soggy wings.

6. While the oil is heating up, prepare the Sauce by whisking fish sauce, water and sugar together until dissolved.

7. Get the wings out of the fridge, drain off any excess marinade into the sink, and pat those babies dry with paper towels.  Get your rice flour into a big bowl and dredge the wings in the flour, tapping off any excess clumping flour, and then lay them aside.

8.  IT’S FRY TIME.  You don’t really need a thermometer to test the oil temp, just cut off  a bit of chicken skin and drop it in the pot.  If it bubbles furiously and quickly floats up to the surface, you’re hot enough.  Fry the wings about 10 at a time (depending on the size of your pot) for about 5 minutes or until they reach a crispy looking golden brown.  Remove wings from fry oil with a slotted spoon, and let them drain on a brown paper bag.  Repeat this step for all of your wings.  It might be prudent to let the oil heat up for a bit again when you’re about half way done with all the wings, since it loses temperature as it cooks yr wings.

9.  If you fancy yourself a multitasker, you can do the saucing step while you’re frying since it’s also best done in small batches.  Heat up a medium to large saucepan over medium heat and add enough of the sauce mixture to thinly coat the pan, about 1/4 cup.  Toss in about a teaspoon of chili garlic sauce into the mix depending on how spiced out you like to get and stir around until the sauce starts to thicken.  Add in about 10 wings and stir them into the sauce until they are thoroughly coated.  Add a dash of water after the sauce is sticky and dried out to finish off the glaze on the wings.  Transfer to a plate to cool.

10. Chow down before they get cold!

A parting note:  You may be asking yourself, do I really need to use fish sauce?  It’s really gross smelling and made from anchovies, what’s this all about? YES YOU DO.  The real question here is, do you like Thai food? Because if you answer yes, then you’ve already been eating fish sauce for a long time since its used in almost every aspect of the cuisine.  Fish sauce is the secret to the success of these wings; it is the magical ingredient that melds all the flavors together into a cohesive deliciousness.

So like Eiliot says, Fork The World!
-Sammy

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