San Tung Fried Chicken Wings and Sauce


San Tung (山东小馆) is a restaurant in San Francisco that serves chicken wings that are just delicious. Ever since my first visit, I have been curious how they are made. After eating many orders, talking to insiders and reading a few books, I have uncovered their secret; the wings are actually a fusion of Chinese and Korean cooking styles. Here’s how to make it yourself:

Equipment:
Dutch oven, deep fryer, or pot; something to fry in
Thermometer, such as a candy thermometer; one that you are positive can handle 350°F
Wire rack(s)
Oven

Ingredients:

3 quarts vegetable oil
2 cups cornstarch
1.5 cups water
salt
pepper
3-4 lbs chicken wings and/or drummettes

and for the sauce:
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
10-15 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped or ripped
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar and/or honey
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce and/or dried red chili peppers

Directions:

1. Start heating the oil over medium-low heat.
2. Wash your wings. If your wings are whole and have the tips and drummettes still attached, you should trim off the tips and then decide whether you want to separate the wings and drummettes. Cook time doesn’t change either way, so it’s just a matter of preference. I’ve made this recipe with both whole and separated wings. In this particular case, my wings are pre-separated:

3. Pat the wings dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

4. Place 1/2 cup corn starch in a container and coat the wings with dry cornstarch.
5. In a separate container, mix the remaining 1.5 cups cornstarch with 1.5 cups of water.  This batter settles quickly so you will need to thoroughly stir it up for each batch of dipping. It can get dense at the bottom and will take some muscle to mix well.

6. Check the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat to medium-high. We want 350°F.
7. Set up your wire rack station.
8. Heat the oven to 200°F.

9. When the oil reaches 350°F, stir your batter up (get the dense glob that settled on the bottom), then dip each wing in the batter before placing it into the hot oil. A few seconds after placing a wing in the oil, you should move it a little just to make sure it does not stick to the bottom or to any other wings.

10. Put 6-8 wings in the oil at a time, fry them for 5 minutes and then let them rest on the wire racks for 5 minutes. You may need to adjust the heat to maintain the temperature of the oil.

11. While the first batch of wings are resting, fry the second batch in the oil. Don’t forget that you need to thoroughly mix the batter before dipping the next batch wings.

12. Fry the first batch of wings again for 5 minutes (yes, each wing is fried two times). No additional batter is used in this step.

13. Place the twice-fried wings on the wire racks for a few minutes and then on a tray in the warm oven. Continue frying and re-frying the wings in small batches, collecting them in the oven, until you are done frying and are ready to sauce and serve.

Ingredients for sauce:
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
10-15 cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped or ripped
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar and/or honey
1/4 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce and/or dried red chili peppers

Pictured are two slightly different variations of sweet and spicy agents I have tried.

Directions for sauce:

1. Chop the scallions, garlic and cilantro. Set aside half of the scallions and the cilantro for later. Mix everything else together.

2. Pour the mixed ingredients into a pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes until thickened.

3. Toss or cover the wings with the thickened sauce and garnish with the cilantro and green onions you set aside earlier.

Enjoy!


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