Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thai-Inspired Wings

After my recent post about wings my pal Eric sent me this recipe.  It sounded so good I had to try it.  By the way this is a great example of how the internet brings folks together.  Eric lives in Tacoma.  I'm in Charlotte.  We got reconnected through Facebook and learned along the way that we were both Eggheads.


So here's the recipe as Eric sent it.  I did things a little differently as I'll explain.

INGREDIENTS

• 3 pounds chicken wings
• 2 tbls rice vinegar
• sea salt and fresh ground pepper
• 1 cup fish sauce (Squid brand is my favorite)
• 1 cup palm sugar (1-12 oz. package dissolved in 1 cup of water—make a simple syrup)
• Juice from an orange, divided
• zest of 1 orange
• 8 garlic cloves, minced (divided)
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 2 tbls sambal oelek chili paste (more or less for heat)
• 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1/2” pieces at 45 degrees
• 2-3 kaffir lime leaves
• 1 cup chopped cilantro, garnish


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Place chicken in a large bowl and add 2 tbls vinegar and mix together. Rinse chicken with cold water to remove vinegar and drain well. Blot dry with a paper towel if necessary. Season the wings with a pinch of sea salt and a crank of fresh ground pepper.

2. In a saucepan, dissolve 1 cup of water with the palm sugar.  Once dissolved, remove from heat and let cool.  Whisk in the fish sauce, half the orange juice and half of the garlic cloves. Transfer the wings and marinade to a plastic bag (toss to coat) and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.  Let wings stand at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to cooking.

3. Drain the wings over a medium bowl to reserve the marinade. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and add the remaining garlic; cook until the garlic is golden brown, being careful not to burn it. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the reserved marinade, remaining orange juice, orange zest, chili paste, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Continue to cook the marinade until it reduces to a syrupy consistency, about 10 minutes, and then remove it from the heat.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack. After 10 minutes, rotate sheet and brush with reserved marinade. After the next 10 minutes, brush with marinade again and rotate sheet. It is not necessary to flip the wings over.

5. Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake wings for another 20 minutes, brushing with remaining marinade halfway through and again at the end, prior to broiling.

6. Turn oven to broil and place wings on the top rack and broil for 1 minute. Remove from oven immediately after.

7. Plate and garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.  Use Mae Play Sweet Chili Sauce for dipping (although, I like them as is).

So here's how I did it for the Egg.

Firstly, Harris Teeter is a marvelous grocery store.  But an Asian market it ain't.  Lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves (?) were not on offer.  So I just left 'em out.  Oh they also didn't have palm sugar.  I used demerara sugar we had in the cabinet. Nextly I didn't leave myself enough time to marinate the wings for 3+ hours.  They soaked about 90 minutes before they went on the Egg.

Oh, so I have a question.  I got hung up on the notion of tossing the wings in vinegar and then rinsing it off.  What gives?  The skin had a weird texture after the vinegar, is it to facilitate some tenderizing process or something?  Anyone?  Here are the wings on a raised grid at 375f.  As I mentioned in the last post, Labon's success comes from moving them around a lot.  We checked on these about every 5 minutes to move them away from hot spots and to make sure they were all crisping up evenly.

It's cool when you have a friend you can call and say, "Want to try a new wing recipe?"  Labon came over Saturday to help me try this.  Besides it was great to have his wing-cooking expertise.

So we got the wings going while we boiled down the marinade into what was going to be the sauce.  We never got it to thicken up like it seemed like it should, but the house was smelling good.  I should say the house was smelling BETTER. When first I opened up the bottle of fish sauce the house proceeded to stink.  This was my first experience with fish sauce.  Ever look at the ingredients?  It's "sardine extract, salt, water."  It smells mostly like eau de sardine.

Anyway, we boiled this stuff down for about 20 minutes and started brushing it on the wings.
This is where I wish we had a scratch and sniff feature.  These things really smelled and tasted amazing.  Also I frankly bought the whole wings because they were on sale.  I trimmed the skin--we'll call it the underarm flab--between the drumette and the wing and just threw them on.  I'm a believer.  These were fall off the bone, but still juicy and had a nice crispy skin.

I didn't anticipate exactly how gratifying it would be to mix up the marinade and sauce like this.  It's gratifying.  The flavor certainly was something unavailable in any bottle on any shelf I know of.  This is worth making, folks.