Crispy chicken wings with spicy tamarind sauce

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Chicken wings might just be among the most versatile ingredients in the world. They’re easy to cook, and can be worked into a variety of delicious dishes that can either go with rice (the traditional Vietnamese type of meal), or stand just as strongly as a main by themselves. Last winter, I sometimes snatched a pack of  1 – 1.5 kg of chicken wings when I visited the grocery store, then marinated them with different seasonings (such as spices, five-spice powder, garlic, shallots, oyster sauce, etc.). After leaving the wings to marinate overnight, I divided them into small portions and chucked all the ready-to-cook servings into the freezer. Whenever I came home late and felt too lazy to cook, I just took one or two servings out of the fridge, thawed them, then simply put them in the oven. With a side of salad or some sliced cucumber added in, that was always a quick, easy, and tasty choice of dinner.

I let my creativity run wild and came up with this new chicken wing dish last weekend, after feeling like I hadn’t had any wings for a long time. The chicken wings were cooked to medium rare using the microwave, then coated with crispy-fry-flour-mix and deep-fried on high heat to get the most heavenly crunchy outer crust. Then I quickly stir-fried the wings with tamarind sauce – a flavorful combination of sour, sweet, salty and spicy. The wings absorbed the marinade nicely, and just enough for the crunchy crust to be remained. The tamarind sauce did not only provide a great amount of eye-catching succulence and gloss to the conventional chicken wings, but also accentuated an amazing smell that must have really frustrated my next door neighbors :)


* Part A

  • 450 – 500 gram (1 lb.) chicken wings
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (or 1 teaspoon minced fresh shallot)
  • 2 tablespoons crispy-frying-mix of any brands you like/ you can get (I bought a pack of Tempura batter mix from the Asian grocery)

* Part B

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or 1/2 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons hot chili sauce (I used Siracha sauce)
  • 1/2 cup water

oil to fry chicken

* Part C

  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil

Green onions – cut crosswise into slices (for garnishing)


1. Clean the chicken wings thoroughly under running water. Pat dry with a paper towel, then marinate them using the ingredients in part A (excluding the frying mix). Cover and marinate for 2 hours (or overnight for best results).

2. Place the chicken wings into a microwave-friendly bowl, cover with a lid or microwave plastic wrap. Microwave in 3 – 4 minutes until medium rare. If you don’t have a microwave, simply skip this step. However, the chicken wings should then be fried at lower heat and will take more time to be completely cooked.

3. Take the wings out of the microwave. Discard any liquid in the bowl. Add in the frying mix and mix well so that the wings are covered with a thin layer of flour. Add more flour if necessary.

4. In a wok, heat the cooking oil. On high heat, fry the chicken wings until they turn golden brown and crispy. Since the chicken wings are partly cooked, the main purpose of this step is to give them have a nice, crispy, golden brown “cover”.

* For non-microwave method: fry at low heat to get the inside of the chicken completely cooked.

 IMG_65935. Once the wings are cooked, placed them on kitchen towel to remove excess oil.

 IMG_65946. Mix together the ingredients in Part B to have a smooth sauce. Taste a bit and adjust if necessary.

Tamarind paste can be found in Asian groceries. If you could only find fresh tamarinds, you can simmer them (without shells) on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until its flesh is completely dissolved into the water. Then strain through a sieve to remove the pulps and save the liquid for later use.

7. In a wok or a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Fry the garlic and shallots until you can sense the nice aroma, then add the sauce from step (6), stir well. Cook on high heat. When the sauce starts to bubble, add the chicken wings and mix well to help every wing to be covered by the sauce.

 IMG_65988. Cook over high heat to help the tamarind paste reduce. Stir regularly. Once the sauce is thick and glossy, turn off the heat, then add green onions and mix well. Serve hot (these wings go perfectly with steamed rice or cold beer ;) ).


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