Chinese 5-spice Chicken Wings

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken wings (12 to 14)
  • 1 onion
  • a 1 1/2-inch piece peeled fresh gingerroot
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably Kikkoman)
  • 1 tablespoon medium-dry Sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne or Thai Chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 6 cups vegetable oil

Directions

Cut off wing tips, reserving for another use, and halve wings at joint. Coarsely chop onion and finely chop gingerroot. In a large sealable plastic bag combine onion, gingerroot, soy sauce, Sherry, five-spice powder, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add wings and seal bag, pressing out excess air. Turn bag until wings are completely coated. Marinate chicken wings in bag in a large bowl, chilled, turning bag once, 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Transfer wings and marinade to a roasting pan or large shallow baking pan and bake, covered with foil, in middle of oven 1 hour. Cool wings until they can be handled and drain in a colander, discarding marinade. Wings may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Reduce temperature to 250F.

In a small serving bowl combine remaining 2 tablespoons salt and pepper. Put cornstarch in a small bowl and dredge each wing, knocking off excess cornstarch and transferring to a shallow pan. In a 5- to 6-quart heavy kettle heat oil until a deep-fat thermometer registers 370F. Working in batches of 6 or 7, fry wings in oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes, and with a slotted spoon transfer to paper towels to drain. Keep wings warm on a baking sheet in oven. Fry remaining wings in same manner, returning oil to 370F. between batches.
Serve wings with salt and pepper mixture.
Serves 6 as an hors d'oeuvre or 4 as a main course.

The two-pronged cooking method used for these wings incorporating both braising and deep-frying is a takeoff on the Chinese technique of steaming, then frying. We think it keeps the meat unbelievably tender while getting the skin supercrispy. Be sure to allow at least 2 hours for the wings to marinate.