- Prep time 55 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- makes 12 wings
Sometimes you can't talk about why you love something without talking about why you hate it. The case of salt-and-vinegar chicken wings makes a fine example. To set the record straight, I was never a big fan of this salt-and-vinegar business. I don't have a problem with sourness being the dominant flavor in a dish, but I don’t like the flavor delivered as a one-dimensional acidic assault in pure vinegar form, lacking complexity or depth. If I were to make a salt-and-vinegar chicken wing, more parties would have to be invited.
Picture: a sour spice mixture made from dried unripe mango and sumac, as well as a garlicky vinegar. The ground mango brings a fruity sourness while sumac tingles with a lemony tang; both excite the sour flavor profile of the dish with more sides of the story. Because one should never use utensils when eating wings, I like to make chicken lollipops (made from Frenched wing drumettes). Each wing is suited in a deep-fried armor of crispiness created from coarsely ground sago pearls mixed with the sour spice mix—they can withstand the soaking of each wing in garlicky vinegar without turning soggy. Now, this I can do. Crunchy, juicy, fruity, eye-squintingly-tangy goodness. Even I can't say no. —Mandy @ Lady and pups
- Sour Spice Mix
(21 grams) amchoor powder (mango powder)
1 1/2 tablespoons
(12 grams) ground sumac
fine sea salt
ground white pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
light brown sugar
- Chicken Wings
fine sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons
freshly ground black pepper, divided
(about 1/2 large) beaten egg (save the rest in the freezer and use for egg wash)
garlic cloves, smashed, divided
small white sago (tapioca) pearls
white distilled vinegar or Chinese white rice vinegar
Canola oil, for frying
- Make the sour spice mix: Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Use kitchen shears to French the drumettes: Cut the cartilage off the smaller, pointy tip (the side where the drummette attaches to the flat). Peel the flesh away from the bone (but don’t remove any) all the way to the other end, until you can scrunch the meat to expose the whole bone and almost be able to invert the meat. Repeat with the rest of the drumettes. In a large bowl, toss the drumettes with salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, beaten egg, and 1 smashed garlic clove. Set aside (but don't let sit at room temperature for more than 1 1/2 hours).
- In a spice grinder, pulse the small sago pearls with long pulses, until mostly a powder with small beads throughout. (The largest beads should be no bigger than coarse cornmeal or uncooked couscous.) Transfer to a small bowl. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the sour spice mix and the remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper.
- In another small bowl, mix together vinegar and remaining 2 smashed garlic cloves.
- Holding a drumette by the tip of the bone, dunk only the fleshy part into the dry sago mixture, making sure every nook and cranny is covered. Shake gently to get rid of excess coating, then set aside on a sheet pan in the order in which they were coated. Repeat with all the drumettes, letting the coating hydrate for 10 minutes before frying.
- Place a wire rack on top of a clean sheet pan. In a large heavy-bottom pot, add enough canola oil until it's deep enough to cover the drumsticks in a single layer. Bring the oil to 340°F to 355°F (170°C to 180°C) over medium to medium-high heat and keep it in that range during the entire process. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pot, starting with the drumsticks you coated first, fry for 5 to 6 minutes, until golden brown outside (the coarse beads of sago will remain pale) and reach an internal temperature of 165°F at the deepest part. Remove each wing and transfer to the rack. Repeat with the rest of the drumsticks.
- Once all the wings are fried, dip the flesh-part of the drumsticks into the vinegar, using a small spoon to baste if needed so that all surface area comes in contact with it (don't worry about sogginess because the beads will stay crunchy). Shake gently for a couple seconds to drain off excess vinegar, then dip the bottom part of the drumstick in more of the sour spice mix. Serve immediately.