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I have only recently embraced the chicken wing as dinner concept. Party food, yes. Dinner, not so much. Until now. It all began with my friend and fellow chef, Theresa. She’s a big proponent of the wing. After her trip to Baton Rouge and Red Stick Spice she went home to her little island and made the crispiest, most delicious baked (yes, BAKED) wings imaginable. I was inspired and began making wings for dinner.

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The first and most important step is to “Zuni” your wings. Yes, I just used a proper noun as a verb. Sorry. What that means is that you use the Zuni Café method of early salting or dry brining to make the skin crispier when baked and also to provide more flavor. I did this last summer when I made the Zuni Café roasted chicken with bread salad. I cannot stress the importance of this step enough. This will make your wings taste like they’re fried after they’re baked.

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I love the spicy sweetness of the Korean BBQ sauce. If you’re tired of your regular American BBQ sauce, give Korean a try. It’s sweet from the ketchup, spicy from the ginger and sambal oelek, tangy from the rice wine vinegar, briny from the fish sauce and crunchy from the sesame seeds. It has everything, plus a little more.

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Korean BBQ Wings

  • 2 pounds chicken wings, split into drumettes
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 1 T sambal oelek or gochujang
  • 3 green onions, white and green parts chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ T ginger, minced
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil

24-48 hours before serving: Pat wings dry with paper towel and place on a rack over a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt on both sides. Place wings on bottom shelf in refrigerator UNCOVERED to air dry until ready to cook.

For sauce: Combine all ingredients, except sesame oil, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk ingredients together until well incorporated. After sauce comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in sesame oil until well combined. Sauce can be made the day before and refrigerated until ready to use.

One hour prior to serving: Preheat oven to 450˚. Remove wings from refrigerator. Using a pastry brush, wipe any excess salt off of wings. Replace wings on rack over baking sheet. Bake wings 30-35 minutes, flip and bake another 15 minutes. While wings are baking, reheat sauce slightly (just so it’s not out-of-the-refrigerator cold). Using a pastry brush, spread BBQ sauce over one side of wings. Replace in oven to bake 5 minutes. Repeat on other side and bake 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and serve with any leftover sauce.

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