Friday, June 27, 2008

Korean Style Wings

Sorry for the delay on this post. All I can say is thank goodness it's Aloha Friday. And doubly thankful the temperature has finally cooled down a bit. Okay, now to the food...

Should be no surprise that I love fried foods but then I don't really know anyone who doesn't like fried foods. I don't eat it all that often (but the Mister would argue that point) but I certainly get cravings for it. The latest fried food item have been Korean style chicken wings. The first try was using a very garlicky not-so-spicy recipe I found--somewhere. It was pretty good overall in taste and crunchiness but it didn't have the spiciness I liked in wings. Also, the recipe called for a lot of garlic chunks in the batter which some ended up burning during the frying process. This created a slight bitterness to the flavor which got to be a bit overwhelming after eating a few.

What I really wanted to use was Chicken Alice's recipe with Kirk's (mmm-yoso) modifications. You can read about Chicken Alice and her famous wings in Honolulu Star-Bulletin's article here. Kirk's adjustments are here. But I have 2 problems to overcome. I can't find the special ingredient that makes the wings, Park's Brand Kim Chee Sauce. It's a product from Hawaii and needs to be refrigerated, I'm guess that's why we can't find it here. The second problem and biggest challenge is that I've never tasted Chicken Alice's wings so I don't even have that to go on. My family had moved from Hawaii before Chicken Alice was even around and by the time I learned about it, her restaurant had closed. But I did hear a rumor that she is now serving up her wings at another place (name escapes me right now).

So literally in the dark, I decided to just do some wings using the recipe and adding *most* of the ingredients that are in Park's Brand KC sauce (chili pepper, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, paprika, salt, ginger). The sauce also includes MSG (which I don't use) and water. The results were pretty good and it looked a bit like Kirk's picture of his wings but it lacked the slight stickiness characteristics. Well, I realized after the fact that I forgot to add the fish sauce but that still wouldn't account for the lack of stickiness. My thought, more sugar! It also lacked any discernible heat. More chili! I remedied the need for more spiciness by mixing up some hot sauce and tossing it like Buffalo style wings. Not too bad. Kirk recommended adding more garlic and sugar and that the fish sauce was a key part of the wings. (Note to self, don't forget the fish sauce!).

So last weekend and despite the heatwave, I decided to go ahead with my plan to make the chicken wings again with adjustments. Since the recipe called for 1/3 cup of Park's Brand KC sauce, I used the ingredients list to create about a 1/3 cup of my own sauce using Korean chili pepper powder, Asian chili paste, Korean chili paste (kochujang - I love this stuff), grated garlic (about 8 toes), about a tablespoon of fish sauce, 2 tablespoon of sugar, 2 teaspoon of salt, minced ginger. I really didn't measure and eyeballed everything (out of habit) and I regret not doing so now because I really still need to make some more adjustments on the sauce. But more later on that.

From this point on, I followed Kirk's recipe and here's what the batter looked like. Sorry the lighting in the kitchen is just horrible and having it in a red bowl doesn't help with photo either. The batter wasn't *pink* like the article described but I didn't expect it to be with all the chili stuff I put in.

I marinated the wings overnight and the next day, I was ready to fry! I used my Dutch oven and peanut oil for the frying part. For some reason, and it could have been the heatwave or something in the batter, but the first few batches of wings were coming out really really dark, close to burnt. I know the recipe calls for deep brown but I don't think they meant burnt. The candy thermometer was reading 350 degrees F but the wings were starting to turn dark around the 6 minute mark but they needed to cook at least 8 minutes to be done. I had to make several adjustments on the temp with the next couple of batches and finally ended at 325 degrees F to get the wings to cook all the way through and without completely burning the crust. Here's what the final batch looked like. You can still seem some burnt edges.

Taste was pretty good, definitely more spicy this time although it could have been hotter for me. Good crunch and just a hint of stickiness. But I think the batter could have used more salt, even more garlic and more sugar. I will be curious to see if I have the same problems with temperature control the next go around.

A side story since I'm on the subject of frying. I bought an electric deep fryer about 2 weeks ago since I though it would be easier than trying to control the heat on my crappy, old ceramic electric stove. I bought one that could hold 1 gallon of oil and had the immersion heating element. Well, I decided to take it back because 1) the timer was nothing but a really cheap egg timer that would ding at the 2-minute mark (the sales lady assured me that's how it comes from the manufacturer - like that's suppose to make me go, "oh, well then, I'll keep the defective product since the manufacturer intended it to be that way!"). And 2) I checked the oil temperature with my digital thermometer and the oil never got hotter than 365 degrees F. It's suppose to get at least 375 degrees F. But I knew this was one of the biggest consumer complaints in many of the electric deep fryers brands. So back it went. I also mentioned to the sales lady that I think there's something wrong with the heating element and the oil is not getting hot enough as advertised. And I think I overheard her tell the store manager that the only thing was the timer so she's going to put it back on the shelf. WHAT????? Whatever. Just made a mental note not to buy small kitchen appliances there anymore.

So I'm back to my Dutch oven for small fry jobs and as a compromise, I bought a new 14" carbon steel wok (from The Wok Shop) which I use for larger fry jobs. I've been meaning to buy a new wok anyway so this will kill 2 birds with 1 stone.

Have a wonderful weekend! Now go and eat well.


KirkK said...

Hi CAB - Those look pretty close to Chicken Alice wings! Nice job...I've started adding a bit more salt and garlic.....and chili paste to my version.

Barefoot Plumies said...

Thanks Kirk! The wings turned out pretty good and I agree, more salt, garlic and chili paste.

No KFW this weekend. The Mister wants Buffalo wings for the 4th. Wish I had a Big Kahuna since I think it's suppose to get really warm again this week.