Cook on a Whim: Southeast Asian-Style Chicken Wings

Move over buffalo wings, there’s a new, way more complex and interesting wing in town — just in time for Super Bowl Sunday.

I adore Asian flavors. My father was my biggest culinary influence and he cooked a lot of Asian food when I was a kid. According to my grandmother (his mother), he developed an interest in Asian food and cooking at a very young age.

Lucky for me, he never grew out of it. I remember a well-thumbed cookbook he had with a blue cover that was full of stir fry recipes and other Asian delicacies. It’s interesting — and maybe kind of strange — since I’m not of Asian heritage, but Asian flavors are really comfort food to me.

In fact, I think my most craved style of cooking (and eating) is Asian, whether Thai, Chinese or Japanese (sushi!). I just love the flavors so much.

Always hanging out in my pantry or fridge are ginger, garlic, onions or scallions and a multitude of sauces: soy, hoisin, oyster sauce, fish sauce, Thai curry pastes. And I always have rice and noodles in my pantry. So, when the whim strikes, I can whip up something to satisfy my cravings pretty quickly.

These wings were the result of one such craving. I had lemongrass that I bought, thinking I would make a Thai-style coconut soup, but this is how it met its fate. These wings are beautiful and almost too easy to believe, but — most important — they are delicious little flavor bombs.

Make them. They’ll disappear.


Southeast Asian-Style Chicken Wings


  • This recipe could easily be doubled or even divided to make a single serving. Just make sure you use a baking dish that allows the wings to lay in a single layer.
  • Lemongrass is not an ingredient I have in my kitchen often. As a result, I have made these wings many times without it. They are still incredibly delicious.


For wings:

2 to 3 pounds chicken wings, tips removed and wing cut into two pieces (you can buy them already cut — I just prefer to do it myself so I can save the wing tips for stock)

1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, roughly sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and gently cracked

1/2 of a Fresno chili pepper or other hot chili, sliced, seeds removed if desired

1 or 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, sliced

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

3 or 4 whole pods of star anise

2 whole cinnamon sticks

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup Asian fish sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey

2 tablespoons dry sherry or other dry white wine

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

For serving:

Handful of fresh cilantro

Other ½ of the chili pepper, finely diced

2 or 3 green onions, thinly sliced

Photo by Anita Parris Soule. Courtesy Cook on a Whim.


Preheat oven to 375. Place all ingredients in a baking dish so that wings lay in a single layer. Toss to evenly coat and distribute ingredients.

Place in preheated oven and bake for an hour, flipping about every 15 minutes. When most of the liquid has evaporated and begins to look thick and syrupy, turn broiler on to crisp the tops. Keep an eye on them; the sugar and soy can burn very quickly. This should only take about 2 minutes, max. Remove when they look glossy and have gotten brown and crispy in spots.

Move to serving platter. Strain and pour over wings any juices left in baking dish. Generously sprinkle with green onions, cilantro and fresh chili pepper. Enjoy!


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