Our family recipe for sticky Chinese Chicken Wings! Tossed in a savoury, sweet, garlicky Asian marinade, then baked in the oven and basted until deeply golden and very, very sticky…..
As with ribs, there’s no way to look elegant when you annihilate a plate of wings. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Sticky Chinese Chicken Wings
These Sticky Chinese Chicken Wings are so moorish, once you start you won’t be able to stop!
This is my family recipe for Sticky Chinese Chicken Wings which has been tweaked and perfected over years, with input from everyone (mother, brother, sister and me) and many heated debates! We finally agreed this is The Recipe and have been loyal to it for years and I don’t see it changing soon. After all, why tinker with perfection?
The marinade for this recipe is a perfect balance of slightly spicy (very mild), salty, sweet with a touch of tang, and the subtle fragrance of Chinese Five Spice from hoisin sauce as well as five spice powder.
Chicken Wing Marinade
Here’s what you need for the Chinese chicken wing marinade.
We have a rule that it is acceptable to omit one ingredient from the marinade, but if you are missing more than one, then don’t bother making it……. 😂 However, it IS acceptable to substitute with similar ingredients, and I’ve provided a fairly lengthy list of “acceptable” substitutions in the recipe!
(PS If you’re querying the inclusion of ketchup in this marinade – yes, it really is used in Chinese cooking and you’ll find it used in other Chinese recipes you know and love like Sweet and Sour Chicken!)
Chinese Cooking Wine
* Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing / shaoshing wine) is, as with many Chinese recipes, the “secret ingredient” that takes this marinade from “tasty” to “NAILED IT!!” It’s an essential ingredient in all your favourite Chinese restaurant recipes, from Fried Rice to Beef and Broccoli, Chow Mein to Cashew Chicken. It adds complexity to the flavour as well as seasoning (it’s salty).
I use it so often, I even wrote an entire post about it! If you’ve ever followed a recipe for a Chinese takeout copycat recipe but found it just wasn’t quite as good as the real deal, the missing ingredient was probably Chinese cooking wine.
You can get a bottle for $2 (sometimes less!) from Asian stores, though it’s sold in grocery stores in Australia nowadays. It lasts “forever” in the pantry, and I use it in virtually every Chinese recipe.
I try to include substitutions in every recipe and in this case, the best substitutes for Chinese Cooking Wine are (in order of preference):
- Dry sherry
- Drinking sake or other drinking rice wine
- Chicken broth/stock
The chicken wings
I typically make my wings recipes using wings that have been cut into drumettes (the mini chicken leg / drumstick looking part) and wingettes (the other part). Most grocery stores sell them pre cut, otherwise, follow the steps in these Ultra Crispy Baked Chicken Wings recipe for how to cut them OR cook them whole.
How to make it
The making part is very simple:
- mix the Chinese chicken wing marinade and pour over wings;
- marinade for a mere 10 to 15 minutes – don’t marinade for longer otherwise it will make the wings too salty and also makes the marinade watery (from drawing moisture out of the wings) which makes it harder to baste;
- Spread wings out on tray lined with foil and paper. Yes, use both. You’ll thank me later – when you’re sleeping tonight instead of scraping super-glued marinade off the tray; and
- bake for 50 minutes until golden and sticky, basting 2 – 3 times with reserved marinade and tray juices.
How to serve these Chinese wings
I must admit, the times I have enjoyed this the most have involved a few glasses of wine….this is the ultimate midnight snack. Forget kebab stands, we need chicken wing carts outside pubs and clubs, and definitely at every taxi queue! 😂
So they really do make fabulous finger food for sharing, whether passing around as a starter or a casual grazing-platter style gathering.
Or serve these chicken wings as a meal with a side of Fried Rice and a fresh, crunchy Asian Slaw.
However you serve it, be sure to have plenty of napkins handy – or to suck each an every finger clean!! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Sticky Chinese Chicken Wings
Recipe video above. My family recipe for the ultimate Sticky Chinese Wings, perfected over years with many heated debates! Many of the ingredients can be substituted and you'll still get a similar flavour – refer to the notes. Spiciness: A hint of spicy from the chilli sauce, can be omitted.
- 1.5 kg /3 lb chicken wings (, cut into drumettes and wingettes (Note 1))
Chicken Wing Marinade (Note 2 for substitutions)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil (, toasted )
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine ((Shaoxing wine, sub Mirin, dry sherry))
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (, light or all purpose)
- 2 tbsp brown sugar or honey
- 1 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/4 cup ketchup (or Aussie tomato sauce)
- 1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce (or sambal oelek (adjust spiciness to taste))
- 4 cloves garlic (, minced)
- 1 tbsp ginger (, finely grated)
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder
- Finely sliced shallots/scallions
- Sesame seeds
- Coriander/cilantro leaves
- Finely sliced fresh chili
Mix Marinade ingredients.
Place wings in large bowl, pour over Marinade and toss well. Set aside for 10 minutes – do not marinate for longer than 1 hour. (Note 3)
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
Line baking tray with foil then greaseproof paper (you'll thank me later).
Shake excess marinade off wings (but reserve the marinade) and spread on baking tray – can be fairly snug but not super squished (use 2 trays if needed).
Bake 45 – 50 minutes, basting with a brush at 25 minutes and 35 minutes, using the reserved marinade and juieces on the tray.
The meat should be able to be pulled off the bones quite easily, they should be just starting to char on the edges and a sticky, dark red/golden colour all over.
Sprinkle with garnishes – coriander/cilantro leaves, sesame seeds, chilli, sliced shallots/scallions – then serve!
1. Chicken wings – I like to make these with wings that have been cut into wingettes and drumettes. You can either buy them pre cut like that, or cut whole wings yourself (discard wing tips / treat your pooch!). See this crispy baked wings recipe for how to cut wings yourself. Whole wings – you’ll need 1.75kg/3.4lb, you’ll lose weight with the discarded tips.
2. Marinade substitutions & notes:
- Sesame oil – use toasted (dark brown, not yellow oil). In Australia, toasted is the norm, untoasted is hard to find.
- Lemon juice can be substituted with rice vinegar – or any white / clear plain vinegar (not balsamic)
- Chinese Cooking Wine (Shaoxing Wine) best subs are Mirin (reduce sugar by half) or dry sherry. Next best – cooking sake, drinking sake or other rice wine. No alcoholic sub – chicken broth/stock.
- Soy sauce – use light or all purpose. Do not use dark soy sauce – it’s far too intense!
- Hoisin Sauce can be substituted with oyster sauce but then you should add an extra 1/4 tsp of Chinese Five Spice Powder
- Oyster Sauce can be substituted with Hoisin Sauce but if you do so then do not add the 1/2 tsp of five spice powder.
- Chilli Garlic Sauce or Sambal Oelak – sub with any other Asian chilli sauce or paste, such as Chilli Bean Sauce or Sriracha.
- Garlic and ginger – fresh is best! But in an emergency, can sub with 1/2 tsp dried powder
- Five Spice Powder – a Chinese mix of five spices sold in everyday grocery stores!
3. Marinade time – it is best not to marinade for too long, 1 hour at most, because the salt in the marinade will draw too much moisture out of the wings (making them drier) and also the marinade will become watery making it harder to stick to the wings.
4. Leftovers keep well for 3 to 4 days. Reheat in microwave!
5. Nutrition assumes 8 servings made with 1.5kg/3lb of wings.
Originally published June 2014, updated September 2019 with new photos, brand new video and most importantly, new Life of Dozer section added!
Life of Dozer
Oi! Back off dog!!!
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