A mashup of traditional Buffalo Wings with Mission Chinese Wings
My spouse entered us in a Super Bowl chicken wing contest. While we’ve eaten our fair share of wings, we rarely cook them. But, we used our experience eating wings to put together a tasty recipe that was well received.
These wings are spicy. If you love spicier food, you can improve the flavor by dry rubbing half a cup of the spice mixture on the wings before you cook them.
Our favorite chicken wings are from Mission Chinese in New York City. The Szechuan Peppercorn coated wings (La Zi Ji) are dry rubbed and served with a sauce made of chiles and tripe. Your lips go numb on the first wing and the heat just radiates from your body. We love them.
But most football watching Americans enjoy saucy Buffalo style wings. The traditional recipe is actually pretty simple. Fry or bake some chicken wings and then dunk them in a sauce made of 50% butter and 50% Frank’s Hot Sauce. People sometimes add cayenne pepper for more heat, Worcestershire sauce, and pressed or sliced garlic for more depth of flavor.
We were being judged on sauciness of the wings. So, the dry rub approach was out of the question. We tried a number of Buffalo wing sauce recipes but nothing tasted as good as the Mission Chinese wing. The solution was to try to combine the two.
Our first mashup took the dry-rubbed Mission Chinese wing and simply dunked it in the spicy Buffalo sauce after it was cooked. We liked the results, but there was an odd after-taste that we believe came from an interaction between the star anise in the Mission Chinese recipe and Frank’s hot sauce.
Our second mashup was more inspired: what if, instead of dry rubbing the wings with Mission Chinese rub, we simply put the spice mixture into the Frank’s Hot Sauce / Butter Mixture? This worked great!
Here are the recipes:
Adapted Mission Chinese Chongqing Wing Spice Mix
Yield: Makes about 1 cup
Spice Mix Ingredients
2 tbsp whole Sichuan peppercorns (we used AAA grade)
2 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 star anise (we reduced the star anise from the Mission Chinese recipe)
2 black cardamom pods (the quality of the cardamom pods matters)
1½ tsp whole cloves
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp + 2 tsp Mushroom Powder (recipe follows below)
2 tbsp + 2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
Toast the Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cardamom and cloves in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring continuously until fragrant. In a small bowl, combine the toasted spices with the cayenne pepper, Mushroom Powder, sugar and salt.
In a spice or coffee grinder, grind the spice mix to a powder, working in batches if necessary. The spice mix will keep in an airtight container for about a week before losing much of its potency.
Yield: Makes about ½ cup
This is the gentleman’s MSG. It’s umami incarnate, in powdered form. It makes dishes more savory, but since it’s made primarily of powdered dried mushrooms, it lacks the stigma — unwarranted or not — of MSG. You can find mushroom powder at Asian markets or online, usually from Taiwanese producers. But a slightly less potent, and less mysterious version is easily made at home. I wouldn’t recommend making this in a large batch, as the flavor dissipates over time.
1 (1-inch) square of kombu (for dashi)
½ oz dried shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
Use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the kombu into 4 or 5 smaller pieces, then grind it to a fine powder in a spice or a coffee grinder or blender. Transfer to a bowl.
Grind the mushrooms to a powder and combine with the kombu. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Like ground spices, this begins to lose its potency immediately.
½ cup Adapted Mission Chinese Chongqing Wing Spice Mix
½ cup (1 stick) of butter
½ cup of Frank’s Original Hot Sauce
30 minutes before the wings are finished cooking, melt the butter on low heat in a small sauce pan. When the butter is fully melted, add Frank’s Hot Sauce and whisk together until an emulsion is formed. Keeping the heat on low, whisk in the Adapted Mission Chinese Chongqing Wing Spice Mix. Once it is fully mixed, keep it on the low heat for about 5 minutes to keep the temperature between 125 F and 165 F, stirring frequently. Then turn off the heat. Stir occasionally and, using low heat, raise the temperature back to above 125 F before coating the wings.
The Wings (Baked)
1 and a half cups of all-purpose flour
½ tbsp of salt mixed into the flour
2 to 4 lbs of chicken wings, patted dry with paper towels
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and paper towels and set a wire rack inside. Carefully dry chicken wings with paper towels. In a large bowl, combine wings with all-purpose flour and salt and toss until thoroughly and evenly coated. Place on rack (skin side up), leaving a slight space between each wing.
Place baking sheet with wings in refrigerator and allow to rest, uncovered, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. When the wings are done resting, remove them from the refrigerator and discard the paper towels, leaving the aluminum foil on the bottom of the baking sheet.
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat convection oven to 400°F. Add chicken wings and cook for 30 minutes. Flip wings and continue to cook until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 30 minutes longer (30 is better), flipping a few more times.
Remove the wings from the oven and coat the wings completely immediately. I find that coating the wings is easiest if you place the wings in a single layer on the bottom of a large steel bowl. Pour the sauce over the layer and then use tongs to gently stir the wings in the sauce.
The wings taste best within the first 15 minutes after you’ve coated them with sauce. They start to lose their crispiness quickly, but are edible 2 to 3 hours later.