Chongqing Chicken Wings
Make Mission Chinese Food's highly addictive and spicy chicken wings.
for the Chongqing wing spice mix:
MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP
2 tablespoons whole Sichuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 star anise
2 black cardamom pods
1½ teaspoons whole cloves
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons mushroom powder (see below)
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
for the mushroom powder:
1 (1-inch) square dashi kombu
½ ounce stemmed, dried shiitake mushrooms
for the wings:
3 pounds chicken wings (either mid-joints or whole wings)
¼ cup kosher salt, plus more as needed
½ cup vegetable or peanut oil, plus 8 to 10 cups for deep frying
½ pound honeycomb tripe
½ cup cornstarch, for dredging
4 cups dried Tianjin chiles or other medium-hot red chiles, like chiles Japones
About ¾ cup Chongqing wing spice mix
Author's Note: You need to parcook the wings a day ahead, so don't start this recipe on Sunday morning thinking you'll have wings in time for football.
1. First, make the spice mixture. 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 sugar, salt, mushroom powder, and cayenne.
2. 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.
3. Next, make the mushroom powder. 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 coffee grinder or blender. Transfer to a bowl.
4. 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.
5. Now it's time to make the chicken wings. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
6. In a large bowl, toss the wings with the salt and ½ cup oil. Spread the wings out on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Bake the wings for 15 minutes, or just until the skin appears cooked but not browned. Let the parbaked wings cool to room temperature, then lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze, uncovered, overnight.
7. The next day, clean the tripe thoroughly under cold running water, scrubbing vigorously to remove any grit. Put in a pot, cover with cold salty water by 2 inches, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 10 minutes, partially covered, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2 to 3 hours, until the tripe is very tender. Drain in a colander, rinse under cold water, and cool completely.
8. Meanwhile, retrieve the wings from the freezer and allow them to thaw at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
9. Slice the cooked tripe into strips about ½ inch wide and 2 inches long. Set aside.
10. In a deep pot or a wok (or use a deep-fryer), heat about 4 inches of oil to 350° F. Meanwhile, pat the tripe strips dry with paper towels, then dredge them in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. Working in batches, if necessary, deep-fry the wings and tripe for 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden and crispy. They should cook in about the same amount of time.
11. Meanwhile, toast the Tianjin chiles in a hot, dry wok or skillet for about a minute over high heat, stirring continuously so the chiles cook evenly. Transfer to a plate.
12. Drain the fried wings and tripe, shaking off as much oil as you can (or let them briefly drain on paper towels). Then transfer to a large bowl and dust them generously with the spice mix, tossing to coat. Add the toasted chiles and toss well. The chiles will perfume the dish, but they aren't meant to be eaten.
13. To serve, transfer everything—aromatic chiles and all—to a serving platter and present to your awestruck and possibly terrified guests.