Head chef Benjamin Cooper says the Chin Chin chilli-salt chicken wings are “our take on the classic chicken wing dish, a representation of how a really simple dish can be amazing”.
The recipe itself was put together “about four years back, and it was completely by accident. I had the master stock on to braise the duck, I had a batch of wings that I needed to cook, and there was no duck there so I used it. That’s the way I’ve cooked them ever since.” The fortuitous circumstances surrounding the dish’s creation are emblematic of what makes it special; Cooper believes that “you can make it as simple or as hard as you want - the braising and cooking of it are pretty basic, but where you want to take it from there is completely up to you”.
What you’ll need:
16 chicken wings, jointed, excess skin removed
fish sauce, for dipping
tapioca flour, for coating
vegetable oil, for frying
1/2 tbs Szechuan salt
1 large red chilli, sliced
2 sprigs coriander, leaves picked
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 stem lemongrass (pale part only), chopped
1 small knob ginger, finely chopped
1 small knob galangal, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 large red chilli, chopped
1/2 large green chilli, chopped
3/4–1 green scud chilli, chopped
3/4–1 birds-eye chilli, chopped
200g palm sugar, grated
1 cup lemon juice
1 kaffir lime leaf, julienned
fish sauce, to taste
In a large heavy-based pot, bring stock to the boil. Add chicken wings and return to the boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook for 5–10 minutes (the meat should be very tender). Take off the heat then remove wings from liquid and place on a tray. Allow to cool. It’s perfectly fine – in fact, it’s good – to put them in the fridge overnight at this point.
In the meantime, make the bandit sauce by pounding the lemongrass, ginger, galangal, garlic and chillies to make a paste. Put to one side then in the same mortar and pestle start dissolving the palm sugar with a bit of lemon juice. Rub that in slowly, adding more juice as you go. When it dissolves into a paste, mix together with the pounded chilli mixture, kaffir lime leaf and a splash of fish sauce. Taste and add more fish sauce if you think it needs it.
To finish the chicken wings, dip in fish sauce then tapioca flour, shaking off any excess. Deep-fry in hot oil until crisp and golden (about 10 minutes).
Arrange on a serving plate, sprinkle with Szechuan salt and garnish with sliced chilli, coriander leaves and lemon wedges.
Serve with 1/2 cup bandit sauce in a dipping bowl. Make sure you have plenty of paper napkins on hand. You’ll have some bandit sauce left over, which will keep for about a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.
You don’t have to fry off these chicken wings to finish them. Instead, get them to the part where you’ve left them overnight in the fridge, then preheat your oven to 220ºC. Toss the wings in a mixture of kecap manis, vegetable oil and salt and pepper, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper then cook them in the oven until they’re golden and sticky (about 10 minutes). Garnish with some sesame seeds and chilli rounds.
For more recipes, you can pick up Chin Chin: The Book at all good book stores or online.