Sounds a bit yuck, doesn’t it? Fish sauce and chicken… what a strange combination! At least that’s what I would have thought before my trip to Vietnam until I bravely sampled ‘Fish sauce chicken wings’ at a buffet one night while staying in Hoi An. I expected it would be awful but we were there to try new things, so why not? Turns out it was something amazing! And I made it a priority to find myself a similar recipe upon our return home. The closest I found was this great recipe over at the Food and Wine website – Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. On first attempt, we did try and make it exactly as the recipe stated below: Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
- 1/2 cup Asian fish sauce
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, 2 crushed and 2 minced
- 3 pounds chicken wings, split at the drumettes
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- In a bowl, whisk the fish sauce, sugar and crushed garlic. Add the wings and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 3 hours, tossing the wings occasionally.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet. Add the minced garlic; cook over moderate heat until golden, 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
- In a large pot, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°. Pat the wings dry on paper towels; reserve the marinade. Put the cornstarch in a shallow bowl, add the wings and turn to coat. Fry the wings in batches until golden and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and transfer to a bowl.
- In a small saucepan, simmer the marinade over moderately high heat until syrupy, 5 minutes. Strain over the wings and toss. Top with the cilantro, mint and fried garlic and serve.
But it was not quite right! The version I had at that dreamy Vietnamese buffet was certainly not fried, and it had a nice bit of spice to it too. So I adapted it to our preferences… as fried food is really not a favourite of mine! What I did instead was skip step 3 and instead added the garlic to my marinade, along with a little bit of crushed chilli (depending on preferences) for a while before cooking.