This is recipe is not a Chinese version of those famous fried wings originating in Buffalo, New York. But like many cultural and scientific phenomena, the Chinese were way ahead of us. They have been eating chickens for 32 centuries, and since it has never been the Chinese habit to waste anything, we can assume the wings were eaten for a similar number of years. When it became a separate “delicacy” however, is not known.
Chicken wings are a beloved snack in most places in China. And you will find braised wings, both sweet and spicy versions, sometimes on a skewer, sometimes awaiting a dip in the huo guo pot. This recipe utilizes the gan shao or dry braised, cooking method, with soy and sugar, served as a snack or appetizer, and is relatively easy to make in a wok; I’ve moderated the sweetness with a bit of vinegar. Bring plenty of napkins to the table!
24 sections of chicken wings (about 2 3/4 lbs.)Clean and dry the chicken wing sections. You may include the wing tips if desired. Marinate chicken in the sugar, sweet soy, soy sauce, rice wine and wine vinegar for at least an hour or overnight.
2 Tab rock sugar or brown sugar
1 Tab sweet soy
1 Tab light soy
1 Tab rice wine (or sherry)
1 Tab rice wine vinegar
1 round Tab finely minced ginger
1 green onion, finely minced
2 tsp ground bean sauce
1 Tab hoisin sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
Peanut oil for frying
For convenience, combine the bean sauce and hoisin sauce in a small dish. Mince green onion and ginger and set aside.
Drain the chicken thoroughly, reserving all the marinade, then pat the chicken pieces dry with a towel or paper towel. Heat a deep fryer or wok with 2 – 3 cups of oil to 325 degrees; carefully lower 6 or so chicken pieces into the oil and arrange the pieces evenly with a bamboo strainer. As you turn and move the wings, keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. The sugars in the marinade will caramelize very quickly. Fry wings briefly until the skin is a mahogany-brown color, then remove and set aside. Repeat until all the chicken is browned. Turn off heat and remove all the frying oil; if using a wok, rinse out when cool enough, and dry on med heat. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of peanut oil; when it just begins to smoke, toss in ginger and green onion and stir fry until it just begins to brown, then add bean sauce and hoisin. Stir fry for a minute or so and add the reserved marinade and stock. When the liquid boils, gently lower chicken pieces into the liquid and turn the heat to low so that the wings will simmer gently. Cover and braise chicken pieces for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the wings are cooked through, remove the lid and increase the heat. Reduce the liquid until it coats the chicken and no longer puddles in the bottom of the pan. Remove and arrange on a platter.
Men ji chi can be served hot or cold, but in either case be sure to provide lots of napkins!