Thursday, July 4, 2013

Vietnamese-style Grilled Chili-Lime Wings

This is one of those dishes that try my patience.  Not because it's hard to make, but because it's easy.  Easy to prepare, easy to marinate, easy to ruin.  The high sugar content of this dish, due to both the honey and the brown sugar, lends itself to burning quite easily if you're not careful or impatient.  Therefore, don't try to force the chicken to be done right quickly, or you're liable to end up with charred skin on the outside and raw poultry on the inside.  The key to this is to cook it slowly, over indirect heat.  And to pack some patience in your back pocket, because this should be marinated overnight, and takes about an hour to cook.  But if you do it right, you will be in heaven.  ;)

Marinade --
1 C lime juice
2 C soy sauce
¼ C Thai chili sauce (NOT the same as Sriracha ... this is sweeter and not as hot)
½ C honey
1-2 Tbsp garlic (3-4 cloves), finely chopped
¾ C brown sugar
2 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
Approx. 20 wings, cut up into sections (can also use a whole fryer chicken)

Finishing/Dipping Sauce --
1½ C warm water
½ C sugar
2 Tbsp Thai chili sauce
2-3 Tbsp fish sauce

Whisk all the ingredients for the dipping sauce together.  Pour into an air-tight container and set aside.

Whisk all the liquid ingredients for the marinade except the honey together.  Warm the honey in the microwave about 30 seconds, then add to the rest of the marinade and whisk well until fully incorporated.  Immerse wings (or chicken pieces) in the marinade overnight in an airtight container, turning over once after at least 6 hours and at least 4 hours before cooking time.

Preheat grill.  If using a gas grill, turn on all burners on high so that it gets nice and hot inside.  If using charcoal, use a large amount so that it gets really hot.  When grill is ready, move charcoal to one side, or turn off one set of burners on a gas grill.  Place wings on the side that no longer has direct heat.

Cover.  Let cook for 20 minutes, then flip and cook for another 25 minutes.  Be sure heat is an even temperature and does not cool off too much, or else it will take even longer to cook.  After the 45 minutes are up, wings (or chicken pieces) should be a nice caramel-brown color.  If there's still some pink in the chicken, flip and keep on the heat another 5-10 minutes. Place the wings over the side with the heat, 4-5 minutes, then flip and continue another 4-5 minutes.  Do not let the chicken burn, which is easy to do thanks to the high sugar content.

How a whole fryer looks after marinating and grilling.

Remove wings (or chicken) from heat and serve with the finishing sauce for dipping.  Ideal with grilled or roasted vegetables, plain rice or noodles.

Served with a side of roasted sweet potatoes with diced onions and bacon.


Serves 5-6 people (depending on how hungry they are!)  ;)


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