Today we’re sharing our favorite chicken wings recipe. Marinated with fish sauce and garlic, then deep fried and smothered in a caramelized sauce, they are finger licking good. This dish was inspired by the salted chili crispy chicken wings at Vu’s uncle’s restaurant Long Provincial in Seattle. Vu’s uncle, Tam, was so excited to share these wings with us when they first appeared on the menu. We finally understood his excitement after inhaling a whole plate of wings in less than five minutes. Yes, we inhaled them. How we didn’t choke was a miracle to me. The wings were the epitome of umami.
For us, these wings are more than a treat, they bring back fond memories of Seattle. During my first year pharmacy residency, I looked forward to our monthly trek from Spokane to Seattle to spend time with family and to indulge in Vietnamese food. If you’ve been to Spokane, you know that Vietnamese cuisine or Asian cuisine in general is missing from the food scene. By the time we got to Seattle, it would be 10 or 11 pm, and we were beyond starving. Instead of grabbing something from a fast food restaurant during our drive, we saved our tummy for the mouthwatering Vietnamese food at uncle Tam’s restaurants.
We loved our dinners with uncle Tam, eating practically everything from the menu. Yes we were pigs and completely guilty of gluttony. Then again, our love for Vietnamese food runs deep and we were deprived living in Spokane. We would stay late into the night, past the restaurant closing, devouring plate after plate of deliciousness, endless cocktails, and sharing our passion for food and pharmacy until the wee hours of the morning. In case you’re wondering about the pharmacy part, uncle Tam’s daytime job is a pharmacist but his passion for food has transformed him into an incredibly talented businessman and restaurateur of both Long Provincial and Tamarind Tree. These wings are our way of paying homage to uncle Tam but as much as we have experimented with the recipe, we haven’t reached the perfection of his wings. Nevertheless, we love our version of uncle Tam’s chicken wings and hope you’ll be hooked on these umami bombs.
Vietnamese sticky wings
2 lbs of chicken wings (about 8-10 wings)
½ cup of warm water
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of fish sauce (Phu Quoc)
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
½ cup of rice flour
¼ cup of cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
vegetable oil for frying
lime wedges for garnish
green chile peppers for garnish
1. For the marinate, combine water, fish sauce, and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Add minced garlic and pepper.
2. Add the wings and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours for the most flavor). Turn them every 4 hours to make sure the wings are marinated evenly.
3. Drain the wings by leaving them in a colander for 10 minutes.
4. Sift rice flour, cornstarch, and baking soda in a mixing bowl.
5. In a large pot over medium heat, fill the pot to about 2 inches of oil and bring it to 350 degrees F (if you don’t have a thermometer, leave it on medium heat).
6. Toss the wings, a few at a time, in flour then shake off excess flour.
7. Fry the floured wings for about 8-10 minutes, 4 minutes on each side (8 minutes for smaller wings and 10 minutes for larger wings) until golden brown.
8. Transfer them to a tray lined with paper towel to drain off excess oil.
9. Drain the garlic pieces from the marinate and deep fry them until golden brown. Reserve for later.
10. In a saucepan, simmer the marinate over medium-high heat until it becomes syrupy and dark golden in color, about 10-12 minutes.
11. Toss the wings in the reduced sauce.
12. Place the wings in a serving dish, sprinkle fried garlic on top, then add lime wedges and green chiles.
*For the most flavor, let the wings marinate overnight.
*If you don’t want your wings too sticky, use a brush and glaze them as much or as little as you like.