My mother was the cook in my house growing up. Really, every adult who inhabited our brick house in Madison,Wisconsin, was a cook, but more literally, my mom was the cook, as in, professionally, too.
And for years it was absolutely established in my mind that she made the best chicken that was ever served as chicken. I could eat her salty caramelized chicken with rice for every meal of the day. I’d ask for it by special request when given the opportunity.
But whoa. My dad one time during a visit home, stepped up his game and made these spicy Vietnamese chicken wings that made me ask, where has this been all my life?
And honestly, I don’t know where they’ve been. It’s not like my dad never cooked dinner–he did, but these wings were no where in my recollection. Now that they’ve made their appearance though, I think dad’s wings might have trumped mom’s chicken (but shh, don’t tell her I said that). Consider this recipe come fall when football season starts up again (omg!) for something a little bit different and yet a little familiar to spice up your game day spread.
Of course, my parents don’t use written recipes when they cook, so here is my approximation of it. (I think I’ve watched them cook for long enough during my years living at home and working in our family restaurant, that I can safely say this is pretty much the right proportion.)
Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Wings
- 2-3 lbs. chicken wings and drumettes
- 4 tablespoons white sugar
- 1/4 cup fish sauce (Nuo’c ma’om)
- 3 red Thai chili peppers, diced (add more or less depending on
your preference for heat).
- Heat up a large wok or pan on high heat. Add the sugar, spreading it out on the bottom of the pan until it begins to lightly caramelize. Be careful not to burn it. This will give the wings a nice golden brown color.
- When the sugar begins to caramelize, add in the chicken wings. Keep on high heat and cook so that the wings begin to caramelize and take on a nice light brown color. Flip the wings a few times to make sure both sides get the nice coloring and flavor. Cook for 5-7 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce and cook for another 5 minutes on high. Reduce heat to medium-low and add in the diced peppers. Stir around and cover, letting wings cook for another 12-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and serve.