One of several favourite starters in my local Thai restaurant is melt-in-the-mouth glazed chicken wings: smothered in a sticky and dark spicy soy sauce glaze, it ticks every box for me.
The recipe below is my ultimate take on sticky glazed wings, using ingredients I usually have in the kitchen such as soy sauce, Thai fish sauce and the like.
Video version of my recipe
My YouTube video of me making this dish can be found here.
A highly adaptable dish
You can use whatever you have lying around, or use convenient shortcuts: ready-puréed lemongrass; garlic in a jar…..
If you don’t have rice wine, use white wine or sherry. I have previously used a couple of pieces stem ginger from a jar if I haven’t had fresh ginger. And even without the Thai basil and the kaffir lime leaves, for example, you still have a gorgeous sauce from the soy sauce and the honey.
A good soy sauce is essential: some of the cheaper varieties contain a lot of extras in there that you don’t really want. You can buy good gluten-free soy sauces if you cannot have gluten.
This works brilliantly with chicken thighs (bone in for flavour) and drumsticks, pressure-cooking for just 10 minutes. Served also with rice and you have a great main course.
I sometimes add other goodies in there such as chopped lemongrass, honey and lime zest.
A simple dish
With this dish, you can either pop everything into the pressure cooker and then cook on high pressure for 7 minutes before glazing, or you can simmer the chicken gently on the hob until it is tender. Either way, the cooking of the chicken can be done in advance if preferred.
Once the chicken has cooked, remove it from its fabulously flavoured liquid and reduce the sauce it until it goes syrupy. This then gets poured all over the chicken before popping in a hot oven so the sauce on top goes wonderfully sticky.
A crispy skin
Flaccid chicken skin, which you get when boiling or pressure-cooking chicken, is not pleasant, but the skin will crisp up enough when it goes back into the oven with the sauce glazed all over it. So while the cooking liquor is reducing to a sauce, I sometimes put the chicken into a large oven-proof dish and pop it in the oven at 200C so that the skin crisps up a bit.
The reduced sauce then gets poured on top but it turns into a wonderfully sticky glaze on the top.
I like this served very simply: crisp lettuce for the chicken to sit on, a generous spooning-over of the sticky sauce and sprinkled with chopped chillies, spring onions and some slithers of gorgeous fried garlic.
For the fried garlic, peel a few cloves and slice thinly. Heat gently in vegetable oil in a small pan just until the garlic turns golden brown. Remove from the oil.
Recipe: spiced soy sauce-glazed chicken wings
Cooking sauce (enough for about 16 wings)
- chicken wings: allow 3-4 per person
- about 1 litre water
- marinade, below
- 200ml good quality soy sauce: go for a gluten-free version if needed
- 3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large chilli of choice, finely chopped
- a couple of tablespoons of rice wine
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, or any type
- 2″ piece of stem ginger, peeled and finely grated or chopped
- a couple of tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- a few Thai basil leaves
- 2-3 fresh kaffir lime leaves
- Iceberg or Little Gem lettuce, shredded
- chopped chilli, optional
- chopped coriander, optional
- sliced spring onion
- lightly fried garlic slices – see above
(1) Put the marinade ingredients into a large dish along with the chicken and mix well with your hands. Cover and chill for several hours or ideally overnight.
(2) Pop the chicken, withj all the marinade and the water into a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes (or 7 mins on high if using a pressure cooker). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C (fan).
(3) Remove the chicken pieces from the liquid and place on a large oven-proof dish. Simmer the beautifully flavoured liquid until it is well reduced, thicker and slightly syrupy: almost to the consistency of honey. You can add other flavours at this stage if you want: more sugar, a splash of honey, chilli, spring onions, fresh coriander…..or keep it just as it is!
(4) Pour the sauce all over the chicken and mix well. Put into the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes or so or until the sauce is bubbling and coating the chicken.
(5) Remove from the oven and sprinkle over any of (or all of!) the chopped spring onion, chilli, crisp garlic shards and fresh coriander. Serve with crisp lettuce and finger bowls!