Chinese 5-spice Chicken Wings
- 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
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 350°F.
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 250°F.
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 370°F. 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 370°F. 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.