In the intro to these Chile Chicken Wings with Creamy Cucumbers from Michael's Genuine Food, author Michael Schwartz describes them as both "major-killer" and "bangin'." These descriptors sounds dangerously similar to Guy Fieri-speak but they also make it somehow intriguing in a Triple D sort of way.
They're an advanced riff on classic spicy Buffalo wings with blue cheese and celery sticks—fried wings sauced with a sweet-hot chile glaze and cooled with a salad of crisp cucumbers in a minty yogurt sauce. And after mixing up a batch of these wings at home, I have to say, they are both "major-killer" and pretty "bangin'."
The secret to the chile sauce is the unexpected addition of tahini—its nuttiness rounds out the rest of the Asian-inspired ingredients, giving the sauce a great thickness, perfect for coating. And the creamy cucumbers? Totally amazing. Coating them in salt and letting them sit for a few minutes draws out their moisture and leaves them with a salty snap. The dressing of yogurt, lemon, garlic, and mint seems simple enough but when mixed with the cucumbers, it's good enough to eat on its own.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Michael's Genuine Food to give away this week.
- For the Chile Chicken Wings:
- 1/2 cup sweet chile sauce, such as Mae Ploy
- 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
- 2 pounds chicken wings, preferably free-range
- Canola oil, for deep-frying
- Cilantro leaves
- Sliced scallion
- For the Creamy Cucumbers:
- 1 English (hothouse) cucumber
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the Chile Chicken Wings: Combine the chile sauce, tahini, vinegar, soy, garlic, and ginger in a blender and process on high speed for 10 seconds. Set the chile sauce aside until ready to use or refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Cut off the chicken wing tips and discard. Split the wings in half at the
joint to make wings and drumettes. Have your butcher do this if you want.
Rinse the chicken wings and pat thoroughly dry.
Heat 3 inches of oil to 350°F in a countertop electric fryer or deep pot. If
you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, a good way to test if the oil is hot
enough is to stick the end of a wooden spoon or chopstick in it. If bubbles
circle around the end, then you’re good to go.
Carefully add the wings to the hot oil and fry in batches until they are
crispy and float to the surface, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the wings to a large bowl. Add enough of the chile sauce to coat and toss well.
To serve, arrange the wings on a platter and garnish with cilantro and
scallion. Serve immediately with the creamy cucumbers and the remaining
chile sauce on the side for dipping.
To make the Creamy Cucumbers: Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Slice the cucumber very thinly with a mandoline or a sharp knife. Put the cucumber in a medium stainless steel or glass bowl; add the salt and mix thoroughly to combine. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cucumbers to a colander and rinse thoroughly. Squeeze dry with your hands and then pat dry with paper towels.
Put the cucumbers back into the bowl and add the yogurt, cream, garlic,
mint, and lemon juice. Toss to combine; season with the pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use or for up to 2 days.