Ultimate Guide to Char Siu Chicken Wings: Prep, Cook, Store Tips

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Written By Hot Thai Restaurant

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We’re diving into the savory world of Char Siu Chicken Wings, a delightful twist on a classic Cantonese favorite. Traditionally, Char Siu is known for its sweet and savory flavors, typically found gracing succulent cuts of pork. But who says we can’t shake things up a bit? By applying this mouthwatering glaze to chicken wings, we’ve discovered a recipe that’s not only finger-licking good but also brings a piece of Cantonese culinary tradition right to your dinner table.

Ingredients for Char Siu Chicken Wings

Bringing the delectable taste of Cantonese culinary tradition to your kitchen, our Char Siu Chicken Wings recipe combines a delightful mix of sweet and savory flavors. Let’s explore the ingredients that will transform ordinary chicken wings into a mouthwatering feast.

For the Marinade

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Red food coloring (optional, for that authentic char siu color)

For the Chicken Wings

  • 2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed and wings cut into drumettes and flats
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mixing the chicken wings with the marinade ensures each wing is coated in those iconic char siu flavors, promising a dish that’s both succulent and fragrant.

  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

These garnishes not only add a pop of color to the dish but also enhance the flavors and textures, making each bite of Char Siu Chicken Wings an utterly delightful experience.

Equipment Needed

Excited to get started on your Char Siu Chicken Wings? Great! Let’s take a quick look at the key equipment needed to make this mouth-watering dish a reality. Ensuring you have the right tools on hand will make the preparation process smoother and more enjoyable.

Baking Sheet

First and foremost, you’ll need a baking sheet. This is where your chicken wings will spend their time in the oven, becoming beautifully caramelized and cooked to perfection. We recommend lining it with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easier cleanup.

Mixing Bowls

You’ll need a couple of mixing bowls for this recipe. One will be used for preparing the char siu marinade, ensuring that all those delicious flavors meld together beautifully. The second bowl will be where you toss your chicken wings in the marinade, making sure each wing is evenly coated.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accuracy is key to achieving the perfect balance of flavors in your char siu sauce. Having a set of measuring cups and spoons on hand will ensure that you’re adding just the right amount of each ingredient.

Whisk

A good whisk is essential for mixing your marinade ingredients until smooth. This little tool helps break up any lumps and ensures that the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, and the other components combine into a silky, flavorful marinade.

Brush

Lastly, you’ll need a brush. This will be used in the final stages of cooking to apply an extra layer of marinade onto the wings, making sure they are beautifully glazed and irresistibly sticky.

Preparation Steps

Diving into the art of making char siu chicken wings means embracing both tradition and flavor. Let’s start by preparing our chicken wings and the marinade that’ll infuse them with that iconic char siu taste.

Cleaning the Wings

To ensure our wings are perfectly prepped, we start by rinsing them under cold water. After thoroughly washing each wing, we take a kitchen towel and pat them dry, removing any excess moisture. This step is crucial; dry wings will better absorb the char siu marinade, allowing for a richer flavor. If you find any remaining feathers or undesired parts, now is the time to remove them. Once cleaned and dried, we set the wings aside on a plate, eagerly awaiting their transformation.

Making the Char Siu Marinade

The secret to mouthwatering char siu chicken wings lies within the marinade. We gather our hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and honey, along with a few other key ingredients that promise to coat our wings in sweet, savory goodness. First, we take a large mixing bowl and combine ¼ cup of hoisin sauce, ¼ cup of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of honey, and 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine, offering a subtle depth. To this, we add 1 tablespoon of finely grated garlic and 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, introducing a gentle heat and zest. A teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder joins the mix, weaving in its complex, aromatic character.

After all ingredients are in the bowl, we grab our whisk and blend everything thoroughly until the honey dissolves and the mixture becomes homogenous. It’s essential to ensure no clumps remain, guaranteeing each wing will be evenly coated. Once the marinade is smooth and fully combined, we gently place our cleaned wings into the bowl. With a pair of tongs or our hands (donned in kitchen gloves for cleanliness), we turn the wings, ensuring each one is fully submerged and coated in the char siu marinade. The wings are now ready to marinate, soaking up all the flavors, setting the stage for a truly delectable dish.

Marinating the Chicken Wings

After preparing our chicken wings and assembling the char siu marinade, the next crucial step involves marinating the wings to infuse them with the rich, aromatic flavors that char siu is renowned for. Marinating is not just a prep step; it’s the heart of the process where our chicken wings start to take on the character and essence of traditional char siu.

Ingredients for Marination

Before we dive into the marination process, ensure you have the following ingredients ready:

  • 2 lbs of chicken wings, cleaned and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup of hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice powder

Preparing the Marinade

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey, Shaoxing wine, minced garlic, grated ginger, and Chinese five-spice powder. Stir well to ensure all the components are thoroughly blended together. This mixture is where our chicken wings will draw their rich, savory, and sweet essence from.
  2. Place the cleaned, dried chicken wings into the bowl with the marinade. Using your hands or a pair of tongs, toss the wings until they’re all evenly coated in the marinade. The goal here is to ensure every wing is fully immersed in the mixture, allowing the flavors to seep into the meat.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. For the best results, let the wings marinate for at least 2 hours, though we highly recommend leaving them overnight. The longer the wings marinate, the deeper and more pronounced the char siu flavors will become.
  • Always marinate in the refrigerator to keep the chicken safe from bacteria growth.
  • If you’re short on time, a minimum of 30 minutes of marination can impart a good flavor, but overnight is where the magic really happens.
  • To ensure even marination, consider flipping the wings halfway through their marination time if you’re going for that overnight soak.

Preheat the Oven

After our char siu chicken wings have soaked up all those delicious, aromatic flavors during their marination time, it’s crucial to ensure they’re cooked to perfection. The first step in this cooking journey begins with preheating our oven. Let’s get it nice and hot for our wings to roast beautifully.

Setting the Right Temperature

For char siu chicken wings to achieve that irresistible balance of caramelized exterior and juicy interior, setting the correct oven temperature is key. We recommend preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). This temperature is ideal because it’s hot enough to cook the wings thoroughly and give them a slight char, which mimics the traditional char siu cooking method, without burning the marinade.

Prepare Your Baking Sheet

While our oven is warming up, let’s prep our baking sheet. Grab a large baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean-up. Then, place a wire rack on top of the lined baking sheet. The rack will elevate the wings, allowing the heat to circulate more evenly around them and ensuring we get that beautifully crispy skin all around. It’s one of those little tricks that make a big difference in the outcome of your wings.

Arranging the Wings

When the oven signals that it has reached the set temperature, it’s time to arrange our marinated wings on the wire rack. Make sure to lay them out in a single layer, and don’t overcrowd them. Overcrowding can lead to steaming rather than roasting, and we certainly want to avoid that. Space them out evenly to ensure each wing gets enough heat exposure for that lovely char siu glaze to caramelize perfectly.

With everything prepped and our oven eagerly waiting at the right temperature, our char siu chicken wings are just a step away from becoming the highlight of your meal. This initial set-up might seem simple, but it lays the groundwork for those tender, flavorful, and visually stunning wings we’re all craving. Now, let’s get ready to roast our char siu chicken wings to absolute perfection.

Baking the Char Siu Chicken Wings

After our chicken wings have absorbed those deep, rich char siu flavors from the marinade, it’s time for the magic to happen in the oven. Baking them will not only cook them through but also caramelize the outside, giving us that perfect balance of savory, sweet, and just a bit of char.

Initial Baking

To start, we preheat our oven to 375°F (190°C), which is the sweet spot for cooking chicken wings evenly without burning. We’ve already prepped a baking sheet with a wire rack. This setup is crucial as it allows hot air to circulate around the wings, ensuring they cook evenly and get that desired crispy exterior.

Arrange the marinated wings in a single layer on the rack. Make sure they’re not touching; space allows for the heat to envelop each wing fully, cooking them uniformly and helping the skin to crisp up wonderfully. Slide the baking sheet into the oven, and let’s give them about 20 minutes in the heat. This initial baking phase is all about getting the insides perfectly tender while starting the process of crisping up the outside.

Basting and Second Baking

After the initial 20 minutes, it’s time for a little intervention. Pull the wings out (don’t forget to use oven mitts!) and marvel at their transformation so far. Now, we baste. Using a brush, lightly coat each wing with a bit more of the char siu marinade. This adds another layer of flavor and starts to give us that iconic glossy, sticky exterior that char siu is famous for.

Once they’re all glistening with an additional layer of marinade, we put them back into the oven. But this time, we’ll increase the heat to 400°F (205°C). This higher temperature for the second baking phase is our secret weapon for achieving that irresistible caramelization on the outside. Bake them for another 5-10 minutes, or until you see the sauce bubbling and starting to darken into that beautiful char siu color.

Keep an eye on them during this final stretch. All ovens are a bit different, and we want to achieve caramelization, not charred beyond recognition. Once they’re perfectly done, take them out and let them rest for a few minutes. This is an excellent time for you to prepare yourself for the flavor-packed punch these char siu chicken wings are about to deliver.

Optional Grilling Instructions

For those who love the smoky flavor of outdoor cooking, grilling the char siu chicken wings adds an irresistible charred taste. We’ll show you how to take these wings from the oven to the grill for an unforgettable twist on this Cantonese classic.

Preparing the Grill

First, we need to get our grill ready for the char siu chicken wings. Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat, aiming for around 375°F to 400°F. If you’re using a charcoal grill, this means you’ll want your coals glowing orange and spread evenly. For gas grills, just set the dial to the medium-high position. It’s important to create two zones: one for direct heating and another for indirect. This method allows us to sear the wings over direct heat for the exquisite char and then finish cooking through gently on the indirect side. Before placing the wings on the grill, make sure the grates are clean and lightly oiled to prevent sticking. A simple trick is to dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and, using tongs, rub it over the grates.

Grilling the Chicken Wings for Charred Flavor

Let’s get those wings onto the grill. Start by placing the marinated wings over direct heat to sear and lock in those flavors. You’ll want to grill them for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until you see the beautiful char marks forming. The sweet marinade will start to caramelize quickly, so keep an eye on them to prevent burning. Once you’ve achieved the desired char, move the wings to the indirect heat side of the grill to continue cooking. Cover the grill and let them cook for another 15-20 minutes, turning them halfway through to ensure they cook evenly and the inside reaches a safe 165°F. This indirect grilling method helps them to cook through without sacrificing moisture, keeping the inside succulent and juicy. During the last few minutes of cooking, feel free to baste the wings with extra marinade for an additional layer of that glossy, flavorful char siu glaze. Just make sure to give them enough time on the indirect heat after the final basting to cook off any raw marinade.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the art of cooking these tantalizing Char Siu Chicken Wings, presenting them in a manner that amplifies their allure is equally important. We have curated some serving suggestions that promise to make your culinary creation an unforgettable feast for the senses.

Plating the Chicken Wings

To start, select a platter or serving dish that complements the vibrant, glossy look of the Char Siu Chicken Wings. A white or dark contrasting plate can make the colors pop, making the dish visually stunning. Spread the wings out evenly on the platter, ensuring each one is visible and easily accessible. For a touch of elegance, consider using a large wooden cutting board for a rustic look that enhances the homemade appeal. Drizzle any remaining sauce from the baking or grilling process over the wings to ensure they’re coated in that delicious, sticky glaze, adding to the mouthwatering presentation.

Adding the Garnishes

Garnishes not only add a pop of color but also enhance the flavors and textures of your dish. Sprinkle a small amount of toasted sesame seeds over the wings for a subtle nuttiness that complements the sweet and savory glaze. A scattering of thinly sliced green onions adds a fresh sharpness that cuts through the richness, while their green hue provides a beautiful contrast to the deep amber of the chicken. For those who enjoy a hint of heat, a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes can add a spicy kick that balances the sweetness of the char siu sauce. Finally, consider offering lime wedges on the side; a slight squeeze of lime juice can elevate the flavors, adding a zesty note that completes the dish beautifully.

By following these serving suggestions, you’ll not only captivate the taste buds but also create an aesthetically pleasing presentation that invites everyone to dive in.

Make-Ahead Tips

Preparing Char Siu Chicken Wings doesn’t have to be a last-minute rush. With a few make-ahead tips, we can ensure a stress-free cooking experience that allows these wings to reach their full, flavorful potential. Here’s how to maximize your time and flavor:

Marinating the Chicken

The essence of these wings comes down to the marination. We recommend marinating the chicken for at least 4 hours, but for those who are planners, letting the wings sit in the marinade overnight will deepen the flavors remarkably. Just mix your marinade ingredients, coat the wings thoroughly, and let them sit in the refrigerator. The longer they marinate, the more pronounced the Char Siu elements become.

Prepping Garnishes

Our finishing touches like sesame seeds, sliced green onions, and lime wedges can be prepared ahead of time too. Slice your green onions and store them in a sealed container in the fridge. For the lime wedges, cutting them a day in advance is perfectly fine—just keep them in a sealed bag or container to retain their freshness. Sesame seeds can be toasted lightly and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Making Extra Marinade

If you’re someone who loves a little extra sauce to serve with their wings, preparing double the amount of marinade is a time-saver. Just remember, you’ll need to divide it before adding the chicken—half for marinating and the other half for serving. The serving portion can be thickened with a little cornstarch and cooked down to a glaze in a saucepan. This can be done a day ahead and simply reheated when you’re ready to serve.

Baking in Batches

For those with a tight schedule, baking the wings in batches can be a real game-changer. Once marinated, arrange your wings on a baking tray and cook as per the instructions. Cooked wings can be cooled down, then stored in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, just a few minutes under the broiler or a quick reheat in the oven can bring back their crispy exterior and juicy interior, saving you time and stress when your guests are waiting.

Storage Advice

After reveling in the sweet and savory goodness of Char Siu Chicken Wings, it’s vital to store any leftovers properly to enjoy them later. Here’s how to keep your chicken wings tasting as delicious as they did fresh out of the oven or off the grill.

Refrigerating Your Wings

  1. Cool Down: Let the chicken wings cool to room temperature before storing. This minimizes the risk of bacterial growth.
  2. Airtight Container: Transfer the wings to an airtight container. If the wings are saucy, make sure the container is leak-proof to prevent a sticky mess in the fridge.
  3. Refrigerate: Place the container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the wings will last for 3 to 4 days.

Freezing for Longer Storage

  1. Prep for Freezing: If you plan to freeze the wings, wrap them individually in cling film or aluminum foil. This step helps to prevent freezer burn and flavor loss.
  2. Bag It Up: Place the wrapped wings in a zip-lock freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing to protect against frost.
  3. Label and Freeze: Don’t forget to label the bag with the date. Char Siu Chicken Wings can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  1. Thaw Safely: If frozen, let the wings thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
  2. Oven Method: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the wings on a baking sheet and heat for 10-15 minutes, or until thoroughly warmed. This method helps preserve the wings’ juiciness and brings back some of the crispy texture.
  3. Microwave Option: For a quicker alternative, you can microwave the wings. Cover them with a damp paper towel and heat on high for 1-2 minutes. While convenient, this method might not retain the crispiness of the skin as well as the oven.

By following these storage and reheating tips, we ensure our Char Siu Chicken Wings remain a delightful treat for days after the initial feast. Keeping the flavors and textures as close to their original state as possible makes for a rewarding culinary experience, even on the next day.

Conclusion

We’ve explored the delightful world of Char Siu Chicken Wings together, from the preparation to the very last bite. With the techniques and tips we’ve shared, we’re confident you’ll enjoy these wings to the fullest, whether freshly made or savored as leftovers. Remember, the key to keeping those flavors vibrant is in how you store and reheat them. So next time you’re in the mood for something sweet and savory, give these wings a try. They’re not just a meal; they’re an experience waiting to happen. Happy cooking!

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