There is no better comfort food for me than homecooked Chinese food. Period. I grew up in a family that ate a fusion of Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine – two very different styles of Chinese food that together offered just the right amount of variety in my home. The sweet and savory red-braised style of cooking popular in Shanghainese cuisine is easily balanced by the light and fresh food Canton is so well-known for. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Chinese food, so to help ease the current stress of having to study for my national medical licensing exam coming up in 2 weeks, it’s time to share with you one of my favorites.
Growing up, one of my mom’s most-anticipated dishes in the house was sweet and sour chicken wings, which we fondly call “tang cu ji chi bang” (糖醋鸡翅膀). I always knew when she was making it, because the smell of the vinegar, soy, and sugar would permeate the house and make me sooo hungry. I can tell you for certain that on any given day, I could have eaten an entire meal with just rice and those chicken wings, oh my god, that’s comfort food right there. This post isn’t about my mom’s recipe, because I have yet to make it myself. I’m planning to get the recipe from my grandfather (my dad’s father) when I go back to China this winter – he is the master of this dish, hands down. Why specify that it’s my dad father? Well the funny thing is, my mom did not know how to cook at all when she married my dad. That was more of a rarity back then, but incidentally my dad happened to be a great cook. Perfect pairing right? Well over time, my dad taught my mom everything she knows about Chinese cooking, and when I was growing up she did all the cooking in the house. So of course, the real roots of the recipe lies with my dad’s father, my grandfather. Eventually, I’ll get to share that recipe with you :)
Now to get to the actual point of this post! My boyfriend and I were having a night of cooking together during one of my recent visits to California, and we decided to go for a Chinese food theme, making family-style comfort food. Of course, chicken wings were at the top of my list! We didn’t have vinegar, so I decided instead to make a red-braised (hong shao) style of chicken wings (红烧鸡翅膀) with some shortcuts, since I didn’t have all the traditional ingredients for a red braise on hand either. This recipe uses only the wingette itself and not the drumettes or wingtips as I find those distracting to eat. Did you know that the part of a chicken wing that has the 2 parallel bones is called a wingette? I didn’t until just recently haha. Anyway, the ingredient list is simple, the preparation is straightforward, and the result is a plate of savory, tender chicken wings that you can really just eat with a bowl of rice and feel satisfied with…
Honey Soy Sauce Glazed Chicken Wings (serves 4-8)
- 2 lbs. chicken wings (wingettes only) – approx 24 pieces
- 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp rice wine
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- several good dashes of black pepper
- 2 tbsp honey
- vegetable oil as needed for pan-frying
1. Mix together the light and dark soy sauce, the oyster sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Rinse off your wings and add them to the marinade, giving them a good toss to coat everything. Let wings marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.
2. Saute sliced onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat with 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil, until they are soft. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. When wings are done marinating, add enough oil to just barely cover the bottom of your skillet and allow to heat up. Gently lay out enough chicken wings to cover the skillet (I was able to fit about 8-10 each time), and be careful because they will inevitably cause the oil to splatter while they pan-fry. Flip them after a few minutes, and pan-fry the other side, until both sides are nicely golden. Set the batch aside and continue to pan-fry the rest of your wings.
4. When all the wings have been pan-fried, add them all back into the skillet along with the onions and garlic. Pour in any leftover marinade that you might have. Cover pan and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the juices run clear when you pierce the wing meat.
5. Turn down the heat and drizzle honey on top of the wings, tossing well to coat evenly. Taste and adjust sweetness as necessary. Serve with rice and enjoy!
The other recipes we made from that night will be forthcoming in future posts… but as a teaser, they include a soup, a pork belly dish, and a vegetable dish :)