Making chicken wings at home may seem like a hassle, in fact you may not even think it’s possible. As you wander in to your local chicken wing restaurant, you will probably notice the deep-friers sizzling the wings away. But replicating crispy, crunchy wings at home doesn’t require submerging your wings in oil. Many recipes suggest baking them (broiling would work, too). But I went for a different method: I fired up the grill (for the first time). With a sauce inspired by the Toronto Momofuku Noodle Bar, I started by oiling the grill (my dad not far away) with toasted sesame oil before laying down the wings. After about fifteen minutes, and they were relatively evenly cooked. I tossed them into my sauce and threw them back on the grill for about five minutes more. The result? A sweet and sticky exterior that packed crunch and crisp and a soft and tender interior with a slow moving spice. While I didn’t get the sauce recipe from this article, it was a source of inspiration, full of helpful tips: Mark Bittman gives inside tips and tricks on how to make a “truly great” chicken wing here.
Unami Sauce Recipe
Note: I completely estimated this entire sauce and while it was inspired by Momofuku and I got a hint from another recipe, I mostly threw in what I thought would add some punch. Reading the recipe, this may sound a little kitchen sink-y to you, but trust me, the final result is great, all of the flavors nicely balancing out.
- fresh garlic cloves
- toasted sesame seed oil (DO NOT go for another oil you have on hand, i.e. olive, grape seed, canola, or some other variety. The sesame seed oil is incredibly flavorful and while it’s slightly more expensive, the final result is far ahead of someother oil. Also, cooking the garlic alone first, immerses it in the oil’s flavor.)
- bonito flakes (dried fish flakes)
- nori (dried seaweed)
- Morton coarse kosher salt
Cover a small saucepan’s bottom with the sesame seed oil and set on low-medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, throw in the garlic and cover the pan. Shake the pan every now and then for about two minutes. Next, add the Sriracha and honey. (The key to the sauce’s success is tasting it as you go. Without doing so you will either a) end up with a mouth-wateringly spicy sauce or a b) incredibly sweet sauce. You don’t want either of these results: something just in the middle is what you’re going for. Once the oil, Sriracha, and honey have mixed well together, toss the bonito and nori in too and take off of heat.
The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated and then basted onto the wings after they have cooked for about fifteen minutes. Then throw the wings back on the grill for about another five minutes. Seconds after the wings were off the grill and still steaming hot, I sprinkled some chive flower, toasted sesame seeds, and torn nori on top for some nice contrast in a bowl. Enjoy while hot.
Photo credit: Douglas Itkin