My mother used to cook a lot with chicken wings when I was younger. I’m not sure if it was just because they were cheap, or if she merely enjoyed cooking them. I certainly enjoyed eating them. She would sometimes make soups and broths using just chicken wings, but often she would marinate them in lemongrass, chilli and garlic before grilling them until they were bronzed and crispy. Just how I would like them.
I absolutely adore chicken wings and am guilty of inflicting them on my husband far too often. I’m always on the lookout for new recipes and this one from Real Vietnamese Cooking is our current favourite. The marinade is simply made of finely chopped garlic and fish sauce, and the chicken wings are given another hit of lip-smacking saltiness with a hot fish sauce syrup just before serving. Despite the few ingredients used in this recipe, the chicken wings are packed with flavour.
In Vietnam, dishes like these are often served as snack food, typically with an ice-cold beer or two. I like to serve chicken wings as part of a meal, often with some steamed Jasmine rice and a vegetable dish alongside. But with my kitchen garden springing into action recently with baby lettuce leaves, coriander and a newly acquired perilla plant, a fresh salad can make these fried chicken wings seem more virtuous.
The original recipe instructs you to coat the cooked chicken wings in all of the hot fish sauce syrup. However, depending on how big or small your wings are, the fish sauce syrup might be too salty, so I would instead recommend tossing the chicken wings through only some of the syrup, and to use the remaining syrup as a dipping sauce. Be prepared to lick your fingers.
For some invaluable information on how to choose the right type of fish sauce, Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl share their tips here in this special interview for ELB.
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