I really love chicken wings. Really. They encapsulate so much I enjoy about meat – they’re fatty, flavourful, with moist flesh, are an excellent vehicle for other flavours, and it’s acceptable to eat them with your hands. What’s not to adore?
I tried to design this recipe to be as simple and flexible as possible. You need to spend a few minutes assembling the marinade, put the wings in the oven and, a very little basting aside, basically leave them alone til they’re done, pausing only to cook some rice and vegetables and whisk together the sauce. For that reason, this is not only a really good weeknight meal, but also an excellent addition to a sprawling weekend banquet too.
If chicken wings aren’t your thing, this exact method would work beautifully with pork ribs, cauliflower, tofu, seitan, aubergine or anything else that will cook but not collapse in 45 minutes. If anyone wants to try it with oyster mushrooms, be my guest, and let me know how it goes.
There will be those who look at the ingredients list and declare it too long, but I’ve tried to provide common substitutes for anything unusual and, failing that, if it’s the difference between making these or not, just leave anything you don’t have handy out. There may also be those who wrinkle their nose at the inclusion of ketchup, but it does an important job in bringing the marinade together into the kind of sauce that’ll cling to the chicken as it cooks. That said, if you’d rather not use it, and want a spicy alternative (I made these very much with children in mind) use a viscous chilli sauce or paste like sriracha or gochujang. Either would be very welcome here.
If, like me, you tend to add 20ºC to most chicken recipes for skin-crispiness-related reasons, don’t in this case – stickiness, rather than crispiness is the aim here, and you’ll burn the sauce if you cook it too hard.
This kind of recipe is really what this blog is supposed to be about – it’s easy, cheap, delicious, adaptable and produces a plate of food that your whole family will happily tuck into.
For four people, with rice and vegetables you will need:
- 1kg chicken wings
For the marinade:
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated/crushed
- 1″/2cm ginger, peeled and grated/crushed
- 3tbsp light/soy sauce (I use Kikkoman)
- 2tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1tsp chinkiang vinegar (or, if you have none, red wine vinegar or, if you have none of that, whatever vinegar you do have)
- 2tbsp tomato ketchup (or chilli sauce of your choice: see above)
- 1tbsp soft brown sugar (or any other sugar)
- A good grind of black pepper
For the dipping sauce:
- 2tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1tbsp soy sauce
- 1tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1tbsp miso (light or dark)
- 2tbsp water
- A few drops of sesame oil
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- A pinch of flaky sea salt
- A pinch of sesame seeds or furikake
At least eight hours, or anywhere up to a few days, before you’re planning to cook, whisk together the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, add the chicken wings, and turn them over with your hands until they’re well covered. Cover the bowl, or transfer the wings to a zip-loc bag, marinade and all, and put them in the fridge til you need them, maybe giving them the odd turn when you’re nearby.
Preheat your oven to 180ºC.
Take your wings out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before you’re ready to cook, and place them upside down and evenly spread out on a large oven tray lined with baking parchment or on a baking rack (though I find the latter messier) giving them all a final turn in the marinade and then scraping the lot out onto the tray (it’s important not to leave the marinade in the bowl or bag, cause it’s the source of the stickiness to come!)
Put the wings in the oven for 45 minutes, turning them half way through the cooking time. Brush them with the marinade or spoon a little over two or three times during cooking.
Whilst the wings roast, whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients and cook some rice and prepare some green vegetables (it needn’t be anything fancy – we had a head of steamed broccoli and some cucumber.)
Once the wings are finished, they should be dark, sticky and appetising. Let them rest at room temperature for five minutes whilst you lay the table, then transfer them to a warm serving plate before topping with the spring onions, salt and sesame seeds.
Pop them in the middle of the table and, making sure you have plenty of napkins handy to clean the inevitable sticky fingers, dive in, dipping in the sauce as you go.