Momofuku Chicken Wings Recipe
David Chang is known for his love of pork fat, and this recipe shows why: It adds tastiness to anything it touches. At his restaurant Momofuku, the wings are cold-smoked before being finished off on the grill or griddle. We’ve adapted the recipe to make it slightly easier for the home cook, while still preserving the essence of the original. Try serving these at your next cocktail party.
What to buy: Pickled red chiles add underlying spice to this recipe and can be found at most Asian markets.
Game plan: Tare is a generic Japanese term for a basting sauce. This version is essentially a chicken-infused soy sauce that adds lots of flavor to the finished dish.
The wings can be made through step 5 up to a day in advance. Bring the chicken to room temperature before finishing.
- 20 chicken wings with wing tips attached (about 4 1/2 pounds)
- 8 cups lukewarm water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups sake
- 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
- 5 cups duck or pork fat (can substitute vegetable oil)
- 6 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 5 to 6 pickled red chiles, seeded and ribs removed
- 1 1/2 cups mirin
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
- Separate the wings into 3 pieces (tips, wings, and drumettes) by cutting at both joints. Reserve wing tips for the tare.
- Combine the water, salt, and sugar in a large container with a tightfitting lid or a large resealable plastic bag (at least 4 quarts) and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the chicken wings and drumettes to brine mixture, cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.
- To make the tare, heat the oven to 400°F. Combine the wing tips and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large ovensafe frying pan and toss to coat. Roast until wing tips are dark golden brown, about 1 hour.
- Remove the pan from the oven, place over medium heat, and slowly add sake and soy sauce, scraping up any browned bits with a flat spatula. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, about 40 minutes. Strain and set tare aside (discard the wing tips).
- Once the chicken wings and drumettes have finished brining, heat the duck or pork fat in a large pot with a tightfitting lid over low heat until the fat is 190°F to 200°F. Drain the wings and drumettes from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Add the wings and drumettes to hot fat and cook, covered, over very low heat until just cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. (Don’t overcook the chicken; there should still be texture and bite to the meat.) When the wings and drumettes are done, remove to a baking dish or baking sheet using a slotted spoon and reserve fat for another use.
- When ready to finish wings and drumettes, heat the broiler to high and arrange a rack at the top. Broil the wings and drumettes, rotating the pan halfway through, until skin is crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once shimmering, add garlic and chiles and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. (Make sure the garlic does not brown.) Add mirin and cook until the alcohol smell is gone, about 2 minutes. Add the tare, stir to combine, and cook until the sauce is reduced to a light syruplike consistency, about 10 minutes. Add the wings and drumettes and toss to coat, top with sliced scallions, and serve.
Beverage pairing: Henriot Champagne Brut Souverain NV, France. Sticky, spicy, and sweet finger foods need something clean and tight to maintain balance. This complex Champagne does the trick with flavors of apples and peaches and a slightly smoky edge.