I love Asian flavors. If you’ve been following along here, I’m sure you’re aware that my father was my biggest culinary influence, but what you might not know is that he cooked a lot of Asian food when I was a kid. I remember a well-thumbed cookbook he had with a blue cover that was full of stir fry recipes and other Asian delicacies. It’s interesting, but Asian flavors are really comfort food to me. These Southeast Asian Chicken Wings are a recipe I make to satisfy my cravings and give myself comfort. They hit all the right notes: sweet, salty, savory, spicy and they are just so fun and so easy to prepare and eat!
*originally posted on February 8, 2015. Updated on January 26, 2020 with new photos, recipe card, and a bit of new text.
I think my most craved cuisine is Asian, whether Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Japanese (sushi!), I just love the flavors so much. I don’t think any other culture or cuisine has such a complexity or balance of flavors. It is such an art. Like I mentioned, my dad made lots of Asian inspired dishes, and they were all delicious. His fried rice was and still is one of my all time favorite things to eat and cook. I loved watching him prepare it. He’d give me little tasks like peeling and chopping the onions and garlic, thinly shredding the cabbage, and cracking and whisking the eggs. We’d get all of the ingredients ready, then in a flash, he’d cook them all in rapid succession and just like that, a pan of delicious fried rice was ready to be devoured.
Because of my dad’s influence, I always have ginger, garlic, onions or scallions, and a multitude of sauces hanging out in my pantry or fridge—soy, hoisin, oyster sauce, fish sauce, Thai curry pastes. I always have a few varieties of rice and noodles, too. So when the whim strikes, I can whip up something to satisfy my cravings pretty quickly. These wings were the result of one such craving. I had lemongrass that I bought thinking I would make a Thai style coconut soup, but this is how it met its fate. These wings are beautiful and almost too easy to believe, but most importantly, they are delicious little flavor bombs.
A few tips on preparing these chicken wings:
- You can mix this all up in the baking dish, just dump it all in and give it a good mix and massage with your hands. Try to make sure the ingredients are submerged in the liquid so that all their flavors get a chance to infuse as they bake.
- Giving these a few turns as they bake really makes a difference. When you feel they are almost done, make sure the skin side is facing up so it gets a chance to char just a bit. Once the liquid is almost all reduced and the chicken gets a nice burnished look, they are done! If you want to speed up the browning, you can broil them at the very end of cooking.
- Make sure, even if you have to use two baking dishes, that they are laying in a single layer.
- Like I have written in the recipe notes, don’t stress if you don’t have all of the ingredients. Lemongrass is not essential. If you have five spice powder, but don’t have star anise and cinnamon sticks, don’t worry! To me, the main flavors that come through are the fish sauce and the five-spice.
- A note on fish sauce: I promise you these wings don’t taste fishy. They taste rich, salty, and so savory. They truly would not be the same without the fish sauce. I urge you to try it, even if you think you won’t like it. Unless you’re allergic of course.
Make them. They’ll disappear.Print
These wings hit all the right notes: sweet, salty, savory, spicy and they are just so fun and so easy to eat!
- 2–3 pounds chicken wings, tips removed and wing cut into two pieces
- one inch chunk of fresh ginger, roughly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and gently cracked
- 1/2 of a fresno chili pepper or other hot chili, sliced, seeds removed if desired
- 1–2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 3–4 whole star anise pods
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry or other dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Handful of fresh cilantro
- the other half of the chili pepper finely diced
- 2–3 green onions thinly sliced
- lime wedges
Preheat oven to 375.
Place all ingredients in a baking dish so that wings lay in a single layer. Toss to evenly coat and distribute ingredients.
Place in preheated oven, bake for an hour, flipping about every 15 minutes. When most of the liquid has evaporated and begins to look thick and syrupy turn broiler on to crisp the tops. Keep an eye on them, the sugar and soy can burn very quickly. This should only take about 2 minutes max. Remove when they look glossy and have gotten brown and crispy in spots.
Move to serving platter, strain and pour over any juices left in baking dish. Generously sprinkle with green onions, cilantro, and fresh chili pepper. Serve with lime wedges.
This recipe can easily be scaled up or down. Just make sure you use a baking dish that allows the wings to lay in a single layer.
If you don’t have all of these ingredients you can still make the recipe. Lemongrass can be hard to find and I have made the recipe without it with great results. The liquid ingredients are the most important, and the five spice powder and fish sauce really add the key flavors in my opinion. Don’t stress if you don’t have star anise pods, whole cinnamon sticks, or lemon grass.
This post was updated on 1/26/2020 with new photos, a recipe card, and a bit more text. See below for the OG photos from 2015!