Salty, Spicy, Tangy Goodness
One night at his eponymous Brooklyn restaurant, former Top Chef contestant Dale Talde tasked his cooks with replicating the Americanized version of kung pao that they all jones for after grueling double kitchen shifts. When nothing but a hit of salty, spicy, tangy goodness will do, this should be your go-to recipe. You can find toban djan, annatto seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, and other ingredients at any well-stocked Asian market, or venture to an online source to fill out your pantry. A double fry may seem fussy, but the results—tender meat and a crunchy, sauce-soaked shell—make it oh-so-very worthwhile.
Recipe from Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides by Lee Brian Schrager with Adeena Sussman. Order your copy here.
Dale Talde’s Kung Pao Chicken Wings
For the Szechuan Oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons annatto seeds
- 1 piece star anise
- 2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 cup canola oil
For the Kung Pao Sauce
- 1 13-ounce jar toban djan (fermented chili bean sauce)
- 1 cup bottled oyster sauce
- 2/3 cup Shaoxing wine
- 2/3 cup rice vinegar
- 2/3 cup sweet chili sauce
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
For the Chicken
- 3 cups rice flour
- Canola oil, for frying
- 4 pounds chicken wings
- Chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, and sliced scallion greens, for garnish
Make the Szechuan oil: Combine the annatto seeds, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, and canola oil in a small saucepan. Gently bring the oil to a simmer, turn off the heat, and let the spices steep for 30 minutes. Strain the oil through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, discarding any solids.
Make the kung pao sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together the toban djan, oyster sauce, wine, vinegar, chili sauce, sesame oil, and the Szechuan oil. Reserve.
Fry the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the rice flour and 2½ cups water to form a batter with the consistency of crepe batter, adding additional water by the tablespoonful if necessary. Fill a large pot halfway with oil and heat to 275°F. Working in batches, dredge the wings in the rice batter, shaking off the excess, and fry until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.
Raise the oil temperature to 325°F and fry the wings in batches until golden brown and cooked through, an additional 6 to 7 minutes. Drain the wings of any excess oil, then transfer to a large bowl and toss in the kung pao sauce. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro, and scallions.
Reprinted from Fried & True by Lee Schrager with Adeena Sussman. Copyright (c) 2014 by Lee Schrager. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, LLC.
Photograph by Evan Sung.