Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
Think you know how to cook chicken wings? But do you really?!
You might consider yourself a dab hand in the kitchen, but creating the perfect fried chicken wing is actually an art that very few have mastered.
There are certain things to consider…how do you brine the chicken? How do you dredge it? What temperature do you fry it? And what about the sauce?! All of these components elevate an average chicken wing to a great one.
But don’t take it from us, we’ve enlisted some advice from the incredible Ashley Chipchase from Mexican Seoul – Wing Fest champion, flavour connoisseur and all round fried chicken expert.
Ashley Chipchase is founder of Mexican Seoul and an all-round chicken wing legend (Credit: Twisted)
What Ashley doesn’t know about chicken wings isn’t worth knowing. So, let’s get into it…
How to cook chicken wings
“When it comes to chicken wings, I would say the first thing to consider is how tender the meat is – that’s so important,” Ashley says. “Then, after that, it’s all about nailing the crunch of the coating.
“Finally, it’s down to the sauce on top, making sure that it’s balanced, you’ve got depth of flavour to it, and the acidity is correct.
“All of this takes time and I’ve been playing around with my recipe for years! The most important thing is to keep trying to learn, experiment and not be afraid to fail in the process.”
Mexican Seoul’s chicken wings previously reigned supreme at Wing Fest competition (Credit: Mexican Seoul)
What are the biggest mistakes people make frying chicken?
- “Not having the oil at the right temperature so the chicken wing doesn’t cook properly.”
- “Overfilling baskets – this is a big one, and what will happen is the oil will just lower in temperature.”
- “The breading of the wing – the coating needs to be really even and you need to make sure you don’t overcoat it.”
Let’s look at how to avoid these no-no’s below!
How to cut a chicken wing easily
- “Use a sharp knife – this is key to making the process easier – a blunt knife could cause yourself some damage!”
- “First things first, you need to get rid of the tips.”
- “Then, use your hand to feel the joints in the bones [between the wingette and the drumette].”
- “Finally, you need to gently cut in between those, where the cartilage is. It can be tricky but it just takes practice!”
Do you brine chicken wings?
“We brine ours in buttermilk and we leave that to brine for 24 hours,” says Ashley. “Some people leave their wings for longer, some leave them for less time.
“We find that 24 hours gives the meat a good level of tenderness. We also add some spices to our brine in order to penetrate the meat, so that you get that depth of flavour all the way through the wing.
“It’s up to you what spices you use, but celery salt is a good place to start.”
The perfect chicken wing is all in the fine details (Credit: Getty)
What oil do you fry chicken wings in?
“Depending on what flour you’re using to fry your wings, what will happen, especially if you’re using all purpose, is that the the flour will go to the bottom of the of the fryer, it will burn and then it will turn that oil acrid.
“We use rapeseed oil because we find it lasts longer without the oil turning acrid – it holds the temperature better, too.
“I would say stay away from vegetable oil. We just find it just affects the tenderness of our wings, but it’s down to personal preference [and your recipe!].”
How to dredge chicken wings
1) It’s all in the flour
“I would advise people to just try different flour combinations. There’s so many flours out there… you can use rice flour or corn flour or all purpose flour. I wouldn’t stick to just one!
“Each different flour brings a different element to the dredging. All purpose flour brings a more heavy crunch to the wing, but you don’t want it to be like you’re biting through bricks, you want a balance of crispy but still to have a crunch,” says Ashley.
“You want a coating that’s light but also has a texture to it. In Korean food they use a lot of rice flour or corn flour, which gives it a lot of crispness, but they all offer different results.
“I can’t reveal my secret recipe [from Mexican Seoul], but I would say experiment with that rather than just using all purpose flour. We played around for months with what flours we used [and what ratio of each] for our chicken wings!”
2) Make sure the coating is even
“You want to be shaking your wings before you put them into the fryer, otherwise they’ll just come out really clumpy the breading will fall off,” the chicken wing expert advises.
“You need every single wing to be even, so we shake our wings in pairs. I see a lot of people using those mesh breading shakers, but we inspect every single wing that we put into the fryer, making sure that there’s not too much breading coating on it.
“So just spend time looking at each and every one, because otherwise you’re gonna have some wings that are overcooked, some undercooked, some that aren’t breaded – you have to do a lot of quality control!”
Experiment with different flour, oil and breading to achieve the perfect wings (Credit: Getty)
How long do chicken wings take to cook?
“I definitely advise double frying,” Ashley says. “The initial time, we always fry ours for around six minutes.
“Then, we let ours cool down for 30 minutes after frying. What that allows is the juices to really return to the meat.
“Then we refry it for a short amount of time [a few more minutes only] – making sure to bring it back up to temperature. This makes the meat more tender.”
What temperature to deep fry chicken wings
“We look to get our chicken wings to about 75 degrees [celsius]. It depends on your recipe,” the Mexican Seoul founder adds.
“Meat thermometers – or meat probes – are your best friends in cooking. Just probe your meat to make sure it gets to temperature.
“You want to try to find the biggest piece you can find rather than probing the smallest piece, because what you’ll then find is the bigger pieces don’t cook properly.”
Mexican Seoul’s famous Gochu Gang wings (Credit: Mexican Seoul)
How do you make chicken wings crispy?
- “Refrying the wings is really how we make them extra crispy. It’s all about that double fry!”
- “The flour dredge also plays a part. Like I said, experiment!”
- “Don’t over-sauce your wings. If you use too much sauce on the wings they’re just gonna get soggy.”
How do you make the best buffalo sauce?
The secret to a good buffalo sauce
“I would say you want it to have a good strong initial spice level – with our buffalo sauce, we use a lot of habanero chillies, so it’s very punchy to begin with, but after that initial spike, it’s not too much.
“We also add some other ingredients so that the spice tails off nicely. It doesn’t blow your head off but you can still taste the depths of flavour.
“You don’t want it to be too metallic, you don’t want it to be too creamy, you want all those flavours to sit with each other.”
Get the consistency right
“Consistency is key. Some people put loads of butter in theirs and it gets too thin, and the sauce doesn’t really hold on their wings.”
Make your sauce stand out
“A lot of people use Franks [hot sauce], which is fine. It’s a good base, but experiment [with other sauces and flavour profiles] to stand yours apart.
“That can mean different ingredients, different spices, more chilies, as well as different kinds of chilies.”
Chicken wings are often served with buffalo sauce – a creamy, spicy coating (Credit: Getty)
What other flavours work great on chicken wings (and any epic fails)?
“When you’re experimenting with flavours you just need to be really passionate about what you do and always try to learn from others, whether it’s going to restaurants or even just scrolling through Instagram or YouTube and seeing what people around the world are doing,” Ashley notes.
“We get inspired by different flavours from all the travels and then we come back and put a twist on it. So for example that buffalo sauce – we’ve been adding orange habaneros. We like to add lots of different ingredients to take it away from the norm.
A couple of Mexican Seoul’s top chicken wing flavour combos include:
- Gochu Gang wings – Korean wings flavoured with Gochujang chilli paste, a gochu-mayo, and garnished with sesame seeds and spring onions.
- Honey Buffanero wings – a sweet and spicy chilli glaze, using the Habanero chillis and maple syrup.
And what about any fails?
“We tried to do a Birria wing – so, like a Mexican wing with a consume on the side and melted cheese. It just didn’t work whatsoever!” the wing expert admits.
“We tried it all sorts of different ways, but each time it just wasn’t crunchy…it was just soggy and the depths of flavours weren’t working.
“We were so excited about it! That’s the thing, though, it doesn’t always work and you have to sometimes accept that. I think that’s the key thing with anything creative.”
What to serve with chicken wings
You’ve nailed your chicken wings, now what to serve with them?
The answer is whatever you want, really! It really depends what flavours your wings come and how much room you have for any extras.
Here are some serving suggestions from team Twisted to get you started:
Ranch is a great accompaniment to serve with chicken wings (Credit: Twisted)
Senior Food Producer, Spencer, is all about ranch with her wings – especially when she’s making Korean flavoured buffalo wings.
You can find a recipe for her herby sesame ranch here, if you wanna give that a try.
2) Coconut dipping sauce
Coconut dipping sauce is another great serving suggestion (Credit: Twisted)
Spencer’s coconut dipping sauce is another great way to serve chicken wings if you’re going for curried ones.
It offsets any aromatic, fragrant flavour notes, is cooling and also features a bit of acidity thanks to the hint of lime in there, too.
3) Garlicky pesto
Garlic pesto is another great shout (Credit: Twisted)
Okay, okay! Twisted‘s Creative Culinary Lead, Hugh pairs a wild garlic pesto with chicken thighs in one of his most popular recipes, but this dip would work great with a classic fried chicken wing, too.
Lemony, fresh and mellow, this is a great spring serving option when you’re making chicken wings (just don’t snog anyone afterwards!). Cop his recipe here.
That’s what we’d pick… what about Ashley? You can see his full offering over on Mexican Seoul’s Instagram, but he also offers up:
- Elote ribs
- Fried cauliflower
See, we said you could eat whatever you want with wings!
Don’t sleep on Mexican Seoul’s fire chicken nachos (if you still have room!), too. They’re limited edition but dedicated to Twisted! Just say our name when you order. You can visit the restaurant in London’s Bow now – details here.
Featured image: Mexican Seoul/ Twisted