Umami and Tang for New Year's: Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings

Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

I'm obsessed with chicken wings. Not the ones slathered in buffalo sauce (but I can see the appeal of those), but any version that is drenched in vinegar, garlic, and/or herbs. I like them crunchy, slight sweet, slightly salty, with plenty of umami and tang.

These fit the bill. Inspired by the amazing fish sauce wings made famous by the esteemed Pok Pok, I kind of took that idea and ran with it. First I made a big, extra sweet, extra fish saucy, extra garlicky nước chấm sauce (Vietnamese dipping sauce), which I then marinated the wings in, reserving a good portion of the sauce. Nice because you only have to make the marinade/sauce once and it does double duty.

Next up, I let the wings bathe in the marinade overnight, then let them drain really well. After a plunge in super-hot oil until they were nice and crispy, I tossed them in a frying pan with the remaining sauce until they were well-coated and super sticky.

This dish takes some time and a bit of effort, but the results are well worth it! You can make the marinade and sauce up to 3 days in advance, and make sure to let the wings marinate for a day.

Ingredients for Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
Ingredients for Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Recipe: Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings

Serves 6 to 8

    Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp canola oil, plus 1 quart for frying
  • 10 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 1/4 packed cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp roasted chile paste
  • 2 lbs medium chicken wings and drummettes
  • 1 cup rice flour
    For serving:
  • Shredded mint and cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges
    Instructions:
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water. Bring gently to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, and chili paste. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes (or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days).

  • Put the chicken wings in a shallow baking dish that just holds them in a single layer. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the chilled marinade/sauce (reserve the remaining in a separate bowl). Toss to coat, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, tossing the wings in the marinade occasionally.
  • When ready to serve, transfer the wings from the baking dish to a colander set in the sink and let drain for 15 minutes. Pour the rice flour into a shallow bowl. Add the wings and toss to evenly coat.
  • Fill a Dutch oven with about 2 inches of oil and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325F. In batches, fry the wings, knocking off any excess rice flour before adding them to the pot. Fry until golden brown, turning, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, bring the reserved sauce to a boil and cook for about 1 minute, or until slightly reduced. Add the wings and toss together to coat with the sauce. Transfer to a platter and serve sprinkled with the herbs.
  • Serve Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings sprinkled with the herbs. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend
    Serve Spicy Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings sprinkled with the herbs. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

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