ON TV: Spicy Asian Chicken Wings

Wings are a weakness of mine.  As a child, my family use to frequent Wings n’ Rings in Tallahassee.  Curly fries, hot wings, and a Shirley Temple were better than pizza in my book.  Greasy and hot, they were accompanied by slightly desiccated carrot and celery sticks that were perfect for dipping in chunky blue cheese.  Paper towel rolls were conveniently located on every table along with packets of wet wipes (a slightly more humble version of the hot towel presented in many a fine dining restaurant).    The nature of the place was such that once dinner was over, my brothers and I would amuse ourselves by how far we could skid in our shoes over the greasy floor while my parents finished their pitcher of beer, chilled down nicely by a plastic bag filled with ice.

The original location of Wings n’ Rings could best be described as a hole in the wall.  They moved while I was in high school to a slightly more upscale (read “cleaner”) location and the wings and curly fries never tasted quite as good. Although for the record, the carrot and celery retained their slightly dried out quality. While it might be presumptuous on my part, I think that a greasy floor and the quality of one’s hot wings are directly correlated.  And to this day, I slide my feet along the floor before deciding if I’m going to order wings at any restaurant or sports bar.

This recipe for wings is very different from the hot wings that I was raised on, but it’s worth trying out if you are craving crispy restaurant-style wings in the comfort of your own home.  For a healthier version these wings can also be baked and then tossed in the sauce, but I urge you to pull out that frying pan and give pan-frying a try.  It’s very easy to do and the results take these wings from ordinary to extraordinary.

While you can substitute all-purpose flour for the rice flour, don’t.  Rice flour (found in most grocery stores) is very light and will make your wings extra crunchy.  And finally, the recipe below will give you moderately spicy wings.  If you want to heat things up just add a little more sriracha.  Sriracha (aka “rooster sauce” thanks to the rooster on the bottle) is a spicy blend of chilies and garlic that is addictively good.  Be careful.  You’ll be squirting it over your scrambled eggs before you know it.

For a video on how to prepare these chicken wings, check out my appearance on WCNC’s Charlotte Today show here.  And with that, I leave you with wishes of happy football-watching with plenty of spicy Asian chicken wings.

Spicy Asian Chicken Wings – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 6 as an appetizer

2 lbs chicken wings
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
¼ cup Hoisin Sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese-style hot mustard
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot chili-garlic Sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup rice flour
Garnish with: 4 green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced

Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the minced garlic and sauté until golden brown.  Stir in 1 cup of water, the Hoisin sauce, the Chinese-style hot mustard, the rice vinegar, the fish sauce, and the sriracha.  Bring to a simmer, stirring often.  When the mixture is simmering, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of water and the 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry.

Slowly whisk the cornstarch slurry into the simmering sauce, whisking constantly.  Return the mixture to a simmer and simmer until the sauce thickens.  Remove the sauce from the heat and keep covered.

In a high-sided frying pan or large pot, add enough vegetable oil to reach about 3/4-inch from the bottom of the pan.  The wings are pan-fried and as a result, you want the oil to come half way up the side of each wing.  Heat the vegetable oil to 325 degrees.

Toss the wings in the rice flour and shake off any excess flour.  Fry the wings in batches for about 5 minutes per side.

Remove cooked wings using tongs or a slotted spoon and set them on a wire rack to drain.  If needed, keep wings warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, put the fried wings in a large bowl.  Add ¼ cup of sauce and the green onions and toss to coat.  Add more sauce if needed.   Serve immediately with any leftover sauce, lots of napkins, and a good game on television!

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