The Right Wings

curry wings featured header

(Chinese versions coming soon)

Did I mention I was going on vacation?  Malaysia.  10 days.  Be jealous.

So for that reason I’m “pre-writing” this one… because I’m scheduling it to be aired after I’m off to the land of Malaysia-truly-Asia.  So as I “am” talking to you now, I AM actually laying on a white-sand beach somewhere in the tropics being sun-kissed.  As I “am” saying add this and combine that, I AM actually dipping my feet in an infinity pool sucking on a cold coconut.  And if I may be completely and utterly honest, the idea that some of you would potentially be reading this recipe while wishing to be also submerged in the sound of waves sweeping the shore, and coconut trees lightly swinging in the wind, makes this little work-before-vacation more enjoyable than usual.

And in a way, it really isn’t cool for me to add insult to injury by scheming such a recipe to remind yet again, that I’m in paradise but you’re not.  But if it’s any consolation, as a return for tolerating such a juvenile joy of mine, this recipe will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF.  If for no other reasons but just the pure AWESOMENESS that it is, to know that broiled wings are ACTUALLY JUST AS GOOD AS fried.  In fact it is the RIGHT way to do wings.  Yes.  I said that.  You can quote me.

Wings don’t need to be fried?  No, they don’t WANT to be fried.  A chicken wing, especially the mid-section, in all its naturally glorious formation already holds the perfect condition to excel under the broiler.  Little bits of bone-in, succulent meat wrapped inside a layer of fat of perfect thickness and proportion.  It knows the true hassle in home-frying and therefore works itself so hard to be fit for golden-crispy from just the oven, so why do we go the extra miles to be unappreciative?  Frying wings would be like trying to hand Paris Hilton a pair of undies.  That’s just rude.

Give them a little faith and they will parade out of the oven with a skin-jacket so crispy, I can hear the “ka-tsi” sound they make when they touch the tongs.  And to be honest, they are already perfect as is straight up with some salt’n pepper.  But if I was in the mood for messy, extra-bold and  hot-sauce-drenched wings, I look no further than this.  A butter and panang curry concoction with a squeeze of lime that will put you in a mirage of somewhere exotic and tropical.  If I dare say so myself, better than the classic buffalo style.

Servings: 16 ~ 20 hot wings

Ingredients:

  • 16 ~ 20 chicken wings, mid-sections only
  • 5 tbsp of panang curry paste, or red curry paste
  • 40 g of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of tabasco
  • 1/2 ~ 1/4 tsp of fish sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lime

Good quality Southeastern curry paste is very important.  I’m using “panang” curry paste but by all means, red curry paste would work wonderfully as well.  These are normally from not-quite-Malaysia-but-close-enough Thailand and nowadays I can easily find packaged curry pastes of all sorts in a lot of supermarket (or amazon), so it shouldn’t be a problem.

Wash the wings really clean under cold water.  Use a paring knife and split the two connecting bones in the wings on the back side (the side with a much thinner skin).  This step will do 3 things:

  1. It allows the skin and muscle to contract when they’re cooking resulting in a much firmer texture in both the meat and the skin.
  2. No need to flip the wings to the other side anymore (saves a lot of work), because the under-layer-skin will “shrink and contract” to the top layer and by the time it gets crispy, the meat underneath would be fully cooked.
  3. It will be really appreciated when it comes to the eating part.

Lay the wings out skin-side up on a baking rack, with a baking sheet underneath to catch the dripping.  IMPORTANT: scatter a few pieces of celery stalks underneath to avoid the grease getting too hot and smoking up.  Use a paper towel to dab the skins to soak up any excess moisture and let them air-dry, uncovered, for 30 min.

Melt the butter in a sauce pot, then add the curry paste and stir fry until fragrant.  Add the coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce and a few turns of black pepper.  The proportion of fish sauce (for saltiness) and sugar (for sweetness) is what I did for the panang curry paste, but adjust the seasoning based on the curry paste you are using.  Let the mixture simmer and reduce by 60% until thick and saucy.

Preheat the top broiler on medium high (475ºC/240ºC), then put the baking sheet on the second highest level, leaving 3 ~ 4″ space between the heat and the wings (remember the celery stalks underneath…).  Rotate the positions of the wings periodically if your oven is known to heat unevenly.  Let the skin crisp up, about 15 ~ 20 min.  There’s no need to turn them.  When they come out of the oven, spoon the curry hot sauce over the wings and toss.  ONLY use enough sauce to lightly coat the wings (may have extra sauce left), and squeeze fresh lime juice over the top.

IF YOU ARE A SLOW WING-EATER, I would strongly suggest dipping each wing in the sauce as you go.  Leaving then in the sauce for over 5 minutes would ruin the crispy skin.  Eat when they are hot.

It’s gonna be messy and dirty.  It’s gonna be awesome.

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