Thai Issan-Style Wings

A few months ago, my buddy David showed me how people eat wings 8,453 miles away when he cooked me up a plate of Keralan wings, using a recipe from a colony near the southern tip of India. They were smokey and the meat fell off the bone, making them extremely easy to eat. I’ve been thinking about them ever since.

This past week, I got an email from David. He was making Thai Issan-style wings for dinner and wanted to know if I’d like him to set aside a few for me. Does the wingman ever turn down wings?

Not only did David drum up a doggie bag, but he was kind enough to provide me with some history on Issan.

Issan is a region in north east Thailand, adjacent to Laos.  It’s the home of Thai country music, a significant percentage of Bangkok’s gogo dancers, and at least three very famous dishes enjoyed nation-wide.  To a degree, Issan is regarded by big city dwellers as a sort of rural punchline.  Most countries have similar.  But, what’s wrong with rural.  Anyone who can cook commands my respect.  Issan Chicken, although it does not always call for nam pla (fermented fish sauce), is Thai as it gets, with a ruthlessly mouth-puckering dipping sauce.

Here’s a shot of the wings in a fatty sauce from the initial cooking…

After separating the wings from the goop, I placed them on a small, foil-covered baking tray and heated it in the oven until they were crispy.

Next, I poured the fatty goop onto the wings for an extra glaze.

To top off the feast, David included a tangy dipping sauce.

Finally, it was time to get my wing on. I picked up a drummy and dunked it into the dipping sauce. The dipping sauce packed a sweet, tangy punch. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I wanted more! Within seconds, my eyes and mouth were watering and I loved it. There was only one way to combat the heat – eat more wings.

When the feast was over, I refrigerated the remaining dipping sauce and dipped my ham sandwich in it the next day – it was that good.

Here’s David’s recipe so you can cook yourself a batch of Thai Issan-style wings! #WINGING

Approx 12 Chicken Wings
10 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons coarsely ground Black pepper
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Sugar
2 Tablespoons Soy sauce
2 Tablespoons Brandy, scotch, bourbon (or Thai Mekhong Whisky)
1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar
1 additional Cup White vinegar
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 additional Cloves of Garlic
2 Bird’s Eye Chilis, 2 Large Dried Hot Chilis, or 1 Teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1 additional Teaspoon Salt

Separate upper/lower wings (if broiling) with kitchen shears or a knife, discard tips if attached (or use to make chicken stock), place in a large Ziploc.  Add marinade ingredients and toss to thoroughly coat.  Seal and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Prepare dipping sauce.  Combine all sauce ingredients in a small pan, bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens.  If at all possible, do this in a WELL ventilated kitchen, outdoors even, as its fumes while cooking mean business.  Once thicker and stickier let cool to room temp.

To Grill:  Leave the upper and lower wing portions connected.  Charcoal is always the superior way to grill; if using any lighter fluid or E-Z start briquettes let any petroleum burn completely off before you grill, and reduce to medium/low embers.  Grill approximately 10 minutes on both sides, char slightly, and try with a closed lid — the goal is to impart as much smoke flavor as possible, without retaining any of petrol.  If you have enough grill space, move wings off the direct fire once charred to get 10 minutes of indirect heat elsewhere on the grill.  Otherwise, finish in medium oven for a few minutes

To Broil:  Place two even rows of wings in a 8″x12″ baking dish.  Spoon some marinade on each wing.  Place on the oven rack immediately under a hot broiler, about three inches clearance.  Broil for approximately 10 minutes, until they just start to blacken.  Flip wings and broil for another 10 minutes, then leave in a medium oven (350 degrees) for an additional 10 minutes to thoroughly tenderize and cook through.

2011 Wing Count: 1,164
Sauce: Thai Issan-Style Wings
Rating: 4.5 Tums

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