Every now and then I succumb and make the family what I think of as “kid-friendly” food, by which I mean things like nachos, individual pizzas, and chicken wings. Bizarrely, now that I think of it, these foods are often thought of as “bar food”. What this says about bar food, or about me, or about what I think of kids’ food, or about anything, I have no idea. We may not want to delve into that right now…
One thing I do know is that small versions of things are charming for us adults, and children absolutely love scaled-down renditions of things from real life. Chicken wings are a perfect example. They are darling miniatures, cute and tidy versions of chicken legs. But as far as I’m concerned, there is one key difference: the small size means that proportionally, there’s more surface area than interior, which means that there’s more sauce per bite. And that translates to a big hit of flavour. Who wouldn’t like that?
Wings aren’t particularly big here in the UK – wait, let me rephrase that without what looks like a bad pun: wings are not as popular in the UK as in the States. I’m not really sure why. An informal poll of randomly selected people (e.g. a couple of people who I work with) revealed that they didn’t even know what chicken wings are. Or why you would want them.
Here’s why you would want them:
1. The aforementioned hit of flavour. But this also means that no matter what sauce you use for your wings, make sure it’s a good one, because you are going to be tasting a lot of it. Balance is key. Something that gives a ‘wow” factor at the first bite can be exceedingly cloying after three or four wings.
2. Wings are cheap. Sure, they’re small, so you do need more per person than, say, regular drumsticks, but even so they are considerably cheaper. A big ol’ heap of wings for our family clocks in at less than £5. And I’m talking a big heap. The Author can pack away quite a few, and even the littleys are getting in on it, especially The Poppet, who perhaps figures that if meat sometimes comes with a little bit of sweetness, chewing is allowed.
3. They are easy to make, and they require very little prep, especially if you can buy the wings already separated at the joints (or get your butcher to do it).
4. Everyone loves them (see above, #2).
5. While the wings are cooking, you’ll have plenty of time to sit down with a glass of wine and put your feet up. (Hmm, I’m beginning to see a connection between kid-friendly and bar food….)
What are you waiting for?
Ginger Chicken Wings with Sesame
serves 5 quite adequately
We usually have these wings with Chinese egg noodles mixed with chili oil and also a serving of something green, like steamed broccoli or pak choy, but they would be great as an hors d’oeuvre or a starter.
Despite being kid-friendly, they are not timid in flavour, but If you want some spicier wings, you could swap out the black pepper for sichuan pepper. They would be good either way.
- 2 inches ginger, sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 TB brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2 TB tamari
- 1 kg (about 2 lbs) chicken wings, separated at joints
- 3 TB peanut or sunflower oil
- salt & black pepper to taste
- 30g (1/4 cup) sesame seeds
- 4 spring onions (scallions), minced
Put the ginger, garlic, sugar and water in a small pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain, and add the tamari. Set aside.
Meanwhile, toss the wings with oil, salt and pepper and bake in a single layer at 375F for 40-50 minutes.
When wings are browned, add the ginger sauce and the sesame seeds, and mix well.
Bake the wings for another 8-10 minutes, until the sesame seeds are golden brown and the sauce is sticky. Remove from oven and top with the spring onions.