Around the world in seven chicken wings
Few dishes are as popular as the mighty chicken wing.
A staple of cuisines the world over, chefs have been experimenting, reshaping and redefining wing cookery for hundreds of years. Today, there are innumerable unique techniques that vary from restaurant to restaurant and from country to country. Despite the variety of delicious individual takes on this extremely flexible ingredient, each interpretation owes its success, in some way, to established traditions. Here’s our collection of the nations whose wings deliver on every level.
There are few fried treats more ubiquitous than the buffalo wing. Created in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in New York, this particular take on the chicken wing has gone on to dominate popular culture, especially in the US. Deep fried and coated in a vinegar and cayenne pepper based hot sauce, buffalo wings are notable for their acidic tang as well as their spice. Perfectly paired with blue cheese sauce, no game day is complete without a bowlful of buffalo wings.
While it could be argued that no nation has embraced the ingredient more readily than America, they are not alone in creating delicious wing recipes. The traditional Indonesian dish of ayam goreng kuning is a prime example. In addition to a marinade of South Asian spices, the key to these wings is a long soak in coconut water before frying, resulting in soft, juicy flesh and crisp skin.
Wings do not have to be fried to be enjoyed to the full. In Beijing, the mi zhi ji chi chuan recipe relies on grilling to produce a charred, flavourful effect. Seasoned liberally with both chilli oil and the mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper, these wings offer an experience unlike any other hot wing.
The Japanese technique of karaage is a well established tradition, and is used for a host of different ingredients. Its application in wing cookery produces stunning results. Teba no karaage wings are flavoured with sake, mirin and sansho peppercorns, before being deep fried for a crunchy and tender finish that delivers bags of flavour and texture.
A traditional street food in Vietnam, the key to this unique take on the wing is the addition of fish sauce. A staple in Vietnamese cooking used to add a depth of flavour in everything from pho to banh, fish sauce gives Vietnamese wings a salty bold tang unlike anything else. So effective is this technique that it has been brought back to the US and become renowned in celebrated restaurants such as Pok Pok.
By elaborating and expanding on trusted traditional cooking methods, wings have helped chefs give birth to entirely new creations. A great example is the Filipino inspired adobo wing. Combining the heritage of the vinegar, soy sauce and garlic-based adobo method with deep frying, The Philippines can now boast some of the world’s tastiest wings.
It’s not just Asia and the Americas that have learned to harness the wing. With influences from north Africa as well as the European mainland, Portuguese cooking is a great blend of bold spice simple technique. Piri Piri is a great example - coating wings in a mixture of chilli, citrus, garlic, salt and traditional herbs, to produce food that is spicy but also complex. As any lover of franchise “Nando’s” will tell you, these wings can more than match up to any other.
Since wings are so flexible, there are almost no limits to how they can be prepared. As these recipes show, they can handle spice, take big flavour and varied technique. It’s little wonder that wings have grown to dominate the global snacking scene in such a significant way.