Chinese Five-Spice Chicken Wings (Bonus: Super delicious homemade soup stock)

Recipe By Courtesy of: My Mom – It’s one of our family favorites!

chinese chicken wings

tomato egg drop soupAndrew and Justin are a 20-something programmer duo that I work with and they were not impressed when I passed on the URL for this blog. Upon reviewing the entries so far, Andrew declares: “I refuse to acknowledge any blog as “cooking blog” if they don’t have meat recipes.” But the chickpea stew is delicious – And people liked the tofu recipes I posted, too! “You need real food, woman. Tofu is disgusting,” says Justin. “Oh, and some of your photos are out of focus.”

Although the quality of the photos is my artistic choice (obviously), it’s true I have fewer recipes using meat as I eat it only once or twice a week these days. I’m not trying to make a statement – Rich, greasy food in general doesn’t get along with my stomach lately and I find plant-based meals easier to digest. But now that I think about it, this non-meat-eating habit seems to have come to me with other behavioral changes in recent years; I get up much earlier than I used to. I collect coupons before I go grocery shopping. And I spend significant amount of time watching Animal Planet where they advertise a medication to prevent osteoporosis between my favorite shows.

After all, maybe Andrew and Justin are onto something. Maybe I lost my edge. I mean – Since when have I become a Prius-driving, NPR-listening, vegetable-growing sensible professional adult? It’s time to reconnect with my fun, rebellious self. And nothing says I’m young and care-free and have high metabolism like chicken wings.

This was one of the first recipes I learned to cook from my mother, as it was my all-time favorite. Chickens are pre-cooked with the aromatics first (and your home will smell so good at this point already), then pan fried until golden with garlic slices before quickly braised with soy sauce and rice wine. But what makes the dish is Chinese five-spice – As a matter of fact, this introduced me to the intoxicating spice blend, which is something, quite frankly, nobody should live without. And do NOT discard the soup that you cooked the wings with. They make incredibly flavorful base for authentic Chinese soup you can throw together at the same time. Clever, Mom. Clever.

So this weekend I sat back on my couch in front of TV with these wings and enjoyed every finger-licking bite of them, while watching Jackson Galaxy turn another wild cat into a perfectly domesticated pet in a new episode of My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet. I don’t care what you say – The guy is AMAZING. But I did skip commercials this time.

Five-Spice Chicken Wings – RECIPE (2 Servings, 5 Wings/10 pieces)

Ingredients:

  • 5 chicken wings
  • 1 large leek, green parts only, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, cut into thick slices with skin on
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or sake
  • 1-2 teaspoon Chinese five spice

Method:

  1. Put chicken wings, leek and ginger slices into a large pot. Add water until all the ingredients are submerged (About 6 cups) and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 20 minutes, uncovered. Watch the pot and skim fat that surfaces often – Otherwise the soup will not be clear.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and cool it down a bit, then take out the wings. Discard leek and ginger, and set aside the stock for another use** (This time I made tomato egg drop soup – The recipe follows).
  4. Cut off the tip and discard. Then divide a wing into 2 sections by cutting between the joint. You can prepare the wings up to this point if you make them in advance. Keep them in refrigerator until future use.
  5. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic slices and fry until they are fragrant and start to brown, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add chicken wings to the skillet and fry them until golden brown on both sides. Inevitably fried garlic slices tend to get attached to the wings, but I leave them like that – It’s like topping the wings with fried garlic chips 🙂
  7. While the wings are frying, measure and mix soy sauce and Chinese rice wine. Add soy sauce mixture to the pan and cook under high heat, while vigorously shaking the pan or stirring often, until moisture is evaporated and the wings are well coated with the thickened sauce.
  8. Remove from heat and sprinkle as much Chinese five spices as you like. If this is first time, you might want to start with moderate amount, say 1 teaspoon. If you know you like it, go nuts.

** If you want to further skim fat from the soup, pour the stock in a container and put it into a refrigerator. A thin layer of fat gets solidified at the top once it is completely cooled so you can remove it easily.

Tomato Egg Drop Soup – RECIPE (2 Servings)

Here are a few tips to make a perfect egg drop soup if you haven’t cooked it before – Just follow these and your soup will be restaurant ready! (1) Thicken the soup with starch mixture (2) Add whisked egg in a small stream into boiling soup (3) Don’t stir once egg is added.

Ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon canola oil
  • 1-2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • ¼ medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups homemade chicken soup stock (store bought is fine, too, of course)
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon potato or corn starch, dissolved into 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the oil and a medium pot and saute tomatoes and onion slices briefly until they start to soften, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the soup stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat to lively simmer. Add salt and sake and cook until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. While the soup is cooking, whisk the egg in a bowl. I like using chopsticks to whisk the egg (especially it is useful when you make a egg drop soup – you will see why soon below).
  4. Turn up the heat and bring it to a rolling boil again. Mix the starch and water again (starch is probably at the bottom. I use my finger to blend the mixture right before I add to the soup), then add to the soup while stirring.
  5. Lower the heat to medium. Keep stirring until the soup thickens.
  6. Bring the heat up again to a gentle boil. Add the egg into the pot in a stream – I attach chopsticks to the side of the bowl while pouring, so egg will drip from chopsticks in order to make a small but steady stream. Do NOT stir once egg is added.
  7. Once egg gets fluffy and comes to surface, remove the pot from the heat. Add black pepper to taste, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
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