Hmong-Style Stuffed Chicken Wings With Fish-Sauce Caramel

March  9, 2021
6 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Makes 20 wings
Author Notes

My mother's chicken wings take time and patience, but the end result is one of the most delicious things you'll ever eat. A deboned chicken wing is stuffed with ground pork and vermicelli noodles, then finished with a spicy fish-sauce caramel. Umami-packed and full of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors, these wings are special enough to be a main course on their own. The deboning of the chicken will be the most difficult part, but if you can get your butcher or a chef friend to help you out, it's well worth the effort. Watch this YouTube video if you plan to do it yourself: Lee Herrick

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: The Chicken Recipe My Family Carried With Them on Their Journey to America. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 20 large, three-jointed chicken wings with skin on
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces glass noodles (also called Chinese vermicelli), made from mung bean starch
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded or thinly julienned
  • 4 scallions, chiffonade
  • 3 cups green cabbage leaves, chiffonade
  • 8 wood ear mushrooms, chiffonade
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 raw eggs, stirred well and set aside in a small bowl
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • 4 garlic
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • Fish-sauce caramel
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup fish sauce
  • 1 jalapeño, serrano, or Fresno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Garnishes (optional)
  • Cilantro, leaves and stems loosely chopped
  • Roasted salted peanuts, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 Thai bird chiles, seeded and thinly sliced into medallions
  1. Tools needed: paring knife, kitchen shears, 9x13-inch nonstick broiler pan set, aluminum foil (to line the pan), large bowl, medium-sized pot, fine-mesh sieve, cutting board, cleaver, paper towels; mortar and pestle, or a small blender; small saucepan, silicon or nonstick spatula; silicone basting brush; kitchen gloves (optional). For smaller batches, ratio the ingredients and broil in a toaster oven.
  2. Prepare the chicken wings: Wash wings and pat dry with a paper towel. Using your hands and a small paring knife, carefully separate the skin from the chicken meat by rolling the skin down like a sock as you trim the meat off the bone of the first and second joints. Remove the bones from the first and second joints, leaving only the wing tip intact. Unroll the chicken skin; this will serve as the casing for the filling. Move the trimmed chicken meat aside onto a chopping board and mince to be added to the filling. Move the prepared chicken wings to the side and pat dry, then sprinkle with kosher salt—the secret to crispy skin on roasted chicken is a dry bird and plenty of salt, then cooked under high heat.
  3. Prepare the cilantro pesto: Grind the cilantro, garlic, and ground black pepper briefly in a mortar with a pestle; or use a blender. Set aside to add to the filling.
  4. Prepare the filling: Soak the glass noodles in a bowl of warm water for 10 to 30 minutes, following the instructions on the package. Make sure the noodles are made with mung bean starch, not rice, or the noodles will not be transparent when cooked. Boil 2 quarts of water in a medium-sized pot and, when bubbling, quickly add the pre-soaked glass noodles. Cook for 1 to 2 seconds only, and remove noodles with a fine-mesh sieve. Drain completely—wet, overcooked noodles will turn the filling mushy. Set aside in a large mixing bowl, and use kitchen shears to trim the noodles into approximately 1/2-inch long segments. If using dried wood ear mushrooms, soak the mushrooms per instructions on the package prior to preparation. Wood ear mushrooms have a jellyfish-like texture when cooked: slightly rubbery with a crisp and crunchy bite, and hints of earthiness. When the glass noodles have cooled to room temperature, add the minced chicken, ground pork, scallions, cabbage, wood ear mushrooms, carrots, cilantro pesto, oyster sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and raw eggs. Use your hands to mix thoroughly.
  5. Prepare the fish-sauce caramel: Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, and cook until the sugar begins to melt and caramelize. Turn the heat down to medium-low and slowly stir the sugar until it begins to bubble, about 4 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, and slowly pour in the fish sauce while stirring slowly with a spatula. Add the sliced chile pepper. Stir until the caramel is thoroughly dissolved. The sauce should be glossy and slightly thin, not thick and hard. Pour into a small bowl.
  6. To cook the chicken, heat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and use a knife to cut slits into the chicken so excess fat and juices can render out.
  7. Stuff each chicken wing using your fingers. Scoop a generous amount of the filling and gently press down into the empty skin casing of each wing until filled to the top. Resist the urge to use chopsticks or metal utensils, which can tear the delicate wing skin. Leave a bit of skin on top of each wing to pull over; this will prevent the filling from spilling out during cooking. A toothpick can also be used to pin the skin together at the top of each wing.
  8. Lay the wings flat onto the sheet pan. If all 20 wings don’t fit, cook in batches. Baste the stuffed chicken wings with fish sauce caramel and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the stuffed chicken wings over, and baste with the remainder fish sauce caramel. Bake for another 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven. Garnish with cilantro leaves and stems, chopped roasted salted peanuts, and thinly sliced Thai bird chiles (optional). Serve hot with sweet chili sauce as an appetizer, or add sticky rice and sliced cucumbers for a complete meal. Try to resist eating all 20 wings yourself (!).

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