Happy March! I hope you’re slowly thawing out, wherever you are. As for me, I’m still freezing. My warm, South Carolina-raised blood is just not used to snow living on the ground for weeks at a time.
I don’t know if it’s the cold weather, being trapped in the house with the kids for days on end or just me justifying yet another ridiculous habit, but lately I’ve really been into deep-frying. I love emptying an entire jug of glistening canola oil, glug by glug, into my cast-iron pot with deep sides that work especially well for containing splatters. While heating the oil slowly, I batter whatever it is that I’m frying — chicken wings, oysters, dough — and lay it out lovingly with one of my spider skimmers and a paper towel-lined platter. I love dropping drippy battered and breaded lumps into 350-degree oil and watching as they emerge, golden-brown, triumphant and shimmering with hot oil. Try it. I challenge you to find something that will make you more proud than deep-frying something well. I know, it should be kids, career, personal milestones. Yada, yada, yada. Go deep fry!
One deep-fried food that the DC area has a good foothold on is Korean fried chicken. When we lived in the city years ago, we’d trek out to Annandale on the weekends for a Bonchon chicken fix. We haven’t had a chance to rediscover Korean fried chicken since moving back (too many things to eat, which is a very good problem to have), so instead the other day I tried this excellent recipe from Saveur magazine. It’s a fantastic starting point for Korean fried chicken in that namely it requires that you double-fry the chicken wings (which then begs the question of what else can be double deep-fried). I used a Vietnamese hot chili garlic paste instead of Korean, only because it’s what I had on hand and I didn’t want to add yet another hot sauce to our refrigerator (we seriously have, like 8 bottles open at any one time) if the recipe didn’t work out in my favor.
As it turns out, these wings are lip-tingling tasty. The chili sauce, which is mixed with loads of garlic, honey, ginger, rice vinegar and soy sauce, is best when it’s smeared all over the wings. There’s nothing neat or clean about eating them, and the best part is licking off the dribbles of sauce that stick on your fingers after you crunch down into a juicy wing. The hubby is a chicken wing fanatic, and he immediately ordered a batch of these wings for our next TV-watching night.
“Don’t you mean the next time there’s like, a big game on or something?” I asked.
“What big game?”
“I don’t know. Whatever game there is for whatever sport is on next.”
“What sport? What game? I spend all of my time doing laundry or holding foods in weird positions so you can photograph them.”
“Oh, right. Well do you want to watch a game sometime? I can keep the kids busy so you can do that…”
“No! I just want more chicken wings.”
My poor guy. He can’t even get a bucket of chicken wings so that he can sit in front of the TV navel-gazing without getting the third degree from his woman.
Guess I’d better go fire up that oil again.
- Canola oil, for frying
- Deep fry thermometer (very important)
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 (2½") piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 6 tablespoons chili garlic paste (Huey Fong or similar)
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1⅓ cups flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1⅓ cup water
- 2½ lbs chicken wings
- Pour canola oil into a heavy-bottomed, deep pot so that the oil comes up at least 2 inches up the sides of the pot. Heat oil over medium or medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees (note: do not deep fry without a thermometer. It will be disastrous.)
- While oil is heating, rinse chicken wings and pat very dry with paper towels.
- In a large bowl, stir together garlic, ginger, soy sauce, chili garlic paste, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey.
- In a 9x9 glass dish or other flat bowl, stir together water, flour and cornstarch until it forms a thick batter. Dip chicken wings, one at a time, in batter and immediately place in oil to fry in batches (4-6 at a time). Fry for 6-8 minutes until just slightly crisped. Remove from heat and repeat with other wings, one batch at a time.
- Once all of the wings have been fried once, strain large bits from the oil with a spider skimmer and return the oil to 350 degrees.
- Re-fry all of the chicken wings in batches until golden brown, approximately 6-8 minutes.
- Toss wings in sauce and serve immediately. Use leftover sauce for extra dipping.