I’m a huge fan of Southern fried chicken. Luscious bits of buttermilk brined chicken with a thick crunchy crust that looks like the forehead of an aging pug. When the urge hits, I’ll even tuck into a bucket of the Colonel’s Original Recipe to get my fix. I’m a fried chicken whore though and my loyalties don’t just lie with Southern fried chicken. I love Japanese fried chicken, Korean fried chicken, and even the winged “bison” variety that originated in upstate New York.
When the Superbowl rolled around a few weeks ago I wanted to do healthier takes on traditional classics. I set out to make buffalo wings with less breading and less oil without loosing anything in the texture and flavour department. The initial goal was to make these entirely in the oven without using oil, but after several failed attempts at a getting crispy skin I gave up. You can achieve slightly crispy skin by spraying non-stick cooking spray on top of the chicken, but it just doesn’t compare to the crackling crisp skin of the deep frying.
So you make the choice, crispy deep fried or healthier oven baked. Either way, you’ll get a wing that’s brimming with South East Asian flavours and a thin caramelized crust.
2 lbs chicken wings
1 serrano or Thai chili (with seeds)
1/4 C loosely packed cilantro leaves and stems
3 cloves garlic
1″ knob of ginger
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs oyster sauce
1/2 C flour
Thai sweet chili sauce
Put all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and and blitz until pureed. Put in a gallon sized Ziploc bag.
Wash the chicken wings and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Add to them to the marinade and seal the bag, trying to get as much air out as you can. Marinate for at least 24 hours.
If you are baking them, move the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat to 400 degrees F. If you are deep frying, heat a cast iron pot with 1.5″ of oil to 365 degrees F.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and dry the chicken as best you can using paper towels. This is important to achieve a thin crisp skin. Put the flour in a bowl and lightly dust each piece of chicken, tapping off any extra flour.
Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet making sure to leave space between each piece. Spray the chicken with non-stick cooking spray, or brush lightly with oil. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the skin is golden brown.
Once the oil reaches 365 degrees F, carefully lower the chicken wings into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel lined wire rack to drain.
Serve with Thai sweet chili sauce, which you can dress up with lime juice and cilantro if you like.