The first time I tried spicy Korean chicken wings was with my family where a Korean fried chicken franchise had just opened its shop in Jakarta back in 2013 or 2014. It was the most delicious thing ever, and each of us polished off at least 10 wings per person. There was a neat stack of empty paper buckets by the end of a very satisfying lunch. Since then I have been in the mission to hunt down the recipe to recreate those finger licking wings.
Most chicken fingers recipe start with deep frying. I have nothing against that, but I prefer if I can avoid deep frying if possible, so I was very happy when I found out about the possibility of “frying” chicken wings in an oven. There is no complicated step to fry chicken wings in an oven, they are ridiculously easy, but I do want to emphasize on the need of a wire rack. Place your wings on a wire rack, and place the rack inside a foil-lined baking tray, you are going to thank me later. If you do not follow this step to a T, your wings are not going to be crispy, and that is not a good thing. So grab a wire rack that can fit nicely in your baking tray.
While your wings are cooking nicely in the oven, it is time to make the sauce. It is a simple concoction of garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and gochujang (Korean chili paste). The last one is the most important ingredient, this is the stuff that makes the bold red color and gives the spicy kick. Most Asian groceries carry this nowadays, either in a red oblong plastic tub like this, or in a glass jar like this. It doesn’t matter which one, just remember to grab this whenever you see one. If you love Korean food, you will end up using this stuff a lot anyway.
To cook the sauce, first sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant in a large frying pan/wok on medium heat (the large size makes it easier to toss the chicken wings later), then add the rest of the ingredients and cook on low heat. There is no need to even boil this stuff, just make sure the sauce is fully heated for about 3 minutes. Then turn the heat off. Once the chicken wings are out from the oven, add them to the cooked sauce, then gently toss until the sauce coats the wings evenly. You can sprinkle the wings with toasted sesame seeds, or peanuts. The ones I had in the restaurant was garnished with crushed toasted peanuts, but I am slightly allergic to nuts (I won’t die, but nuts do bad things to my face), so I opt for toasted sesame seeds. If you have some cold beers chilling in your fridge, serve the wings with some ;)
Spicy Korean Chicken Wings
- 1 1/2 kilogram chicken wings
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger, minced
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 4 tablespoon gochujang
- toasted sesame seeds or crushed toasted peanuts
- Preheat oven to 120 Celsius (250 Fahrenheit).
- Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack in the baking tray. Spray/brush the wire rack with oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Pat the chicken wings with a paper towel until really dry. Toss the wings with baking powder and salt until well coated. Place the wings on the wire rack, and make sure the wings are not touching one another.
- Bake for 30 minutes on lower rack. Then increase the oven temperature to 220 Celsius (425 Fahrenheit), transfer the wings to an upper rack, and continue baking until the wings are golden brown and crispy, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, we will make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large frying pan/wok on medium heat. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Lower heat to a medium-low, add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Mix well and stir into a homogenous looking sauce. Cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat but there is no need to remove pan/wok from heat sauce to keep the sauce warm.
- Once the chicken wings are out from the oven, add them to the sauce. Toss to coat the wings evenly with sauce.
- Garnish with toasted sesame seeds or crushed toasted peanuts. Serve hot.