It’s officially barbecue season and we’re celebrating with these bourbon honey char siu wings! Sticky, sweet, classic char siu flavor, and a hint of bourbon – trust me when I say these wings were devoured in an instant.
I have the tendency to get into food obsessions. There were those weeks of eating blueberry muffins, my endless search for the best ever grilled cheese, and the time that I made Mike eat pho all over Europe. Needless to say, when I love a food, I can eat it in all of its variations over and over again. My not-so-new obsession: wings. Who doesn’t love wings?! I literally cannot think of a single person who doesn’t like wings. Sure, they need to be handheld and they’re saucy and typically end up on all over your face, but that’s part of the fun – working for that satisfying bite of meat off the bone.
Speaking of meat off the bone, how do you guys feel about boneless wings? I’m pretty sure those are just chicken strips masquerading as wings – I mean, they literally don’t have any substance to them. Don’t get me wrong, I love chicken strips but if you’re a chicken strip, just be a chicken strip.
Anyway, back to these wings. I doused them in char siu sauce, baked them, then glazed them with extra sauce that I reduced with some bourbon for a kick. If you guys haven’t had char siu, or Chinese (typically Cantonese or Hong Kong Style) barbecue pork, you need to get yourself to a siu mei/BBQ meat shop, right now! Just roll on over to Chinatown and you’ll spot a place; you can’t mistake them. At the front of the store there’ll be a giant window with loads of glistening, juicy meat hanging from hooks. Most shops will have roast chicken, duck, pork, and, you got it, char siu.
Char siu literally means fork roasted (kind of like rotisserie-style), but it also refers to the sauce that coast the pork and gives it that signature red hue. The redness traditionally comes from red fermented bean curd, which is essentially tofu that’s been fermented/preserved with red yeast rice or red rice koji. The red tofu doesn’t really add much of a flavor in the forefront, but it does add that hint of rich umami in the background. I wouldn’t say it’s essential, but if you have access to an Asian grocery store, I’d recommend getting a small jar.
Char siu sauce is usually used on pork but it works equally well with chicken too! Mike was the one to suggest adding a bit of bourbon for a kick and I’m glad we did because it added a nice extra note of caramel sweetness. These wings were delicious, no trip to Chinatown needed. And now my wing obsession is in full swing. I’m already planning other wings recipes!
Mix the marinade ingredients throughly. Coat the wings with the sauce and marinate for minimum 1 hour and up to 24.
When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil.Remove the wings from the marinade, shaking off excess. Lay the wings on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip the wings and continue to roast for an extra 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned.
While the wings are cooking, heat up the remaining marinade (remove the ginger and garlic) with the last 2 tablespoons of honey and the bourbon. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until it reduces and thickens slightly. It should coat the back of a spoon.
Brush the wings with the glaze and turn the heat up to 400°F, brushing with glaze and flipping, until slightly charred. Enjoy hot!