Just the right combination of meat for eating and bones for flavor.
With crisp-fried skin and strong flavor, just the combination of mouthfeel and taste that makes for yummy eating.
Especially in Hunan Style.
Eating an Animal
Thinking of the use of meat between “East” and “West”, among all the various parts of chicken you could use, these are at an interesting interim place:
They are not quite the chicken breast so popular (in “the West”) for making things really easy for the eater. And for being almost unrecognizable as anything that comes from an animal.
They are definitely not the bits and pieces used in a dish like Chinese (or really, Sichuanese) LaZiJi, either. There, you first have to manage to find the chicken among all the chilli. That done, you’ll still have to get the meat off the bones…
(Don’t get me wrong, the combination of chile pepper and Sichuan pepper in that is fantastic, but Sichuan cooks like to make things difficult with that.)
Chicken wings are right in between, definitely of an animal, but not with such a terrible ratio of meat to bone.
Flying Into Hot Eating
Chicken wings are also popular in many places, and often with some pungency.
You might think that they are an American thing, the way they are often found, but the Hunan kitchen also uses them.
What I present here is that Hunan version, for which chile peppers are characteristic, of course.
The whole of the chicken wings still isn’t too spicy – unless you happen to use chilli that is overly pungent, which you shouldn’t, so take care ;)
The Hunan Way
When well done with the right kind of red chile pepper that is pungent but not overly hot, the “salsa” that results is a perfect example of how Hunan cooking likes its chilli:
Hot, but not too much, so that it alone can serve as a major part of the meal. With the garlic and the chicken juices – not to forget the rice wine – it’s a pleasure to eat the chilli over rice all on its own when the chicken’s gone.
Just right to show how Hunan food is all food to “down” rice, as the popular saying (literally) goes…
Let’s Get Cooking
First, the instructions via video, the way I cooked them. Recipe in classical form below:
Chicken Wings Hunan-Style
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce (must be a light one)
- 1/4 cup cooking wine (Liaojiu) (rice wine, typically)
- 1 tsp. salt (to taste)
- 3-5 pcs. chicken wings (as usual, amount can be varied according to taste/hunger)
- 5 pcs. red chile pepper (large and of medium pungency, should give 1-2 cups when chopped)
- 10 pcs. garlic cloves (to taste)
- Cut chicken wings into their sections (or even smaller). Marinade in light soy sauce, cooking wine and salt. Let sit while preparing the other ingredients, turning over once or twice so they get marinated nicely.
- Wash chile peppers, chop them small. They can be deseeded if wanted, but Hunanese wouldn’t bother with that. Put in a bowl or on the side of the chopping board.
- Peel, crush, and lightly chop the garlic. Also put in a separate bowl or on its own side of the chopping board.
- By the time the preparation of chile peppers and garlic is finished, the chicken wings are probably also finished marinating. So, time to heat some oil in a frying pan and to get started frying the chicken pieces.
- When the chicken wings are quite nicely fried brown, add the chile pepper and fry it for about 5 minutes. How long exactly depends on the heat (and water content), it just mustn’t get burnt.
- Towards the end of the cooking time, add the garlic to also fry that for about 2 minutes. If you are unsure about when the cooking time comes to its end, add the garlic sooner. (In the “worst” case, at the same time as the chile pepper.)
- Serve with rice (and preferably, a vegetable dish)