Today’s lunch. I could wait for a couple of days or weeks before posting the recipe but I’m much too excited to share it. I’ve been planning on making this dish for a while and mustering enough guts to do it.
Guts? Yes, well, I sometimes have an allergic reaction to chicken. Too much or too often and I break out in rashes. Combine chicken with duck egg yolk and the chances of spending uncomfortable days until the allergy has run its course multiply exponentially.
But… I couldn’t resist. Drinking brew made by boiling lagundi leaves should solve the problem. If you haven’t discovered yet, lagundi (Vitex negundo also known as the Chinese chaste tree) which is used to relieve cough works well as an anti-histamine. For me, at least, and that’s why we planted a tree in the garden.
Anyway… about these fried chicken wings with salted duck egg yolk sauce. Cooking the dish consists of four parts, although one of them is optional.
The first step is seasoning and marinating the chicken. This is not the optional part. This is a must. You simply can’t reply on the salty sauce to season the chicken wings all the way through. You want the meat of the wings to be as tasty as the sauce that will coat them. Toss the chicken wings with salt and pepper, place in a covered container and marinate in the fridge for at least six hours (overnight is best).
The second part is frying the chicken wings. For extra crispness, take them out of the fridge, lay them on a rack in a single layer and let the air dry their surfaces while, at the same time, the chilled chicken comes to room temperature. Half an hour or so will do the job.
Then, toss the chicken wings in starch (cornstarch is used here but potato starch is an even better choice) and fry in batches. Place the fried chicken wings on a rack in a single layer to prevent steam buildup which will make the crust soggy.
The third part is the optional one. I took a handful of Thai basil leaves and dropped them in the hot oil in which I fried the chicken wings. I left them there just long enough for them to turn translucent. At that point, they were perfectly crisp.
Why is this part optional? Because the fried basil leaves served as garnish. Just like the basil leaves in Taiwanese popcorn chicken — not really essential but desirable for the added texture, color and flavor.
The last part is making the salted duck egg yolk sauce and tossing the fried chicken in it. Salted duck egg yolk paste (sold in jars) is used here. If you’re unfamiliar with the product, or if you’re totally unfamiliar with salted duck eggs, see the linked post below.
Salted duck eggs
The Chinese have been making them since the sixth century, and use of the delicacy has spread throughout Asia. Today, imaginative cooks have discovered non-traditional ways of integrating them into savory and sweet dishes.
To make the sauce, pour off the oil from the frying pan leaving only a trace. In that meagre oil, drop in minced garlic and cook over low heat until lightly browned.
Still over low heat, drop in the salted duck egg yolk paste and cook, stirring, until it liquefies. Once the sauce spreads to a thin layer, dump in the fried chicken wings and toss, thoroughly and repeatedly, until each piece is coated with the sauce.
Transfer the fried chicken wings with salted duck egg yolk sauce to a plate, garnish with the fried Thai basil leaves and serve.
Fried chicken wings with salted duck egg yolk sauce
- 12 to 15 chicken wings
- 1 tablespoon rock salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- cooking oil - for deep frying
- ⅓ cup cornstarch - or potato starch (please don't use all-purpose flour)
- 20 to 30 Thai basil leaves
- 6 cloves garlic - peeled and minced
- 4 to 6 tablespoons salted duck egg yolk paste - the actual amount depends on the size of the chicken wings
- Rinse the chicken wings and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Toss the chicken wings with the salt and pepper.
- Place in a covered container and marinate in the fridge for six hours or overnight.
- Place the marinated chicken in a bowl, add the cornstarch and toss to coat each piece evenly. Shake off any excess.
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan, and fry the chicken wings in batches until lightly golden and crisp.
- In the same oil in which the chicken wings were fried, drop in the Thai basil leaves and cook until translucent and crisp. Scoop out and place in a bowl lined with paper towels.
- Pour off the oil leaving only a small amount to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Over low heat, cook the minced garlic until lightly browned.
- Add the salted duck egg yolk paste and cook, stirring, until the paste thins out and spreads.
- Drop in the fried chicken wings and toss to coat each piece.
- Serve your fried chicken wings with salted duck egg yolk sauce garnished with fried basil leaves.