Here is a remarkably sophisticated though dead simple take on classic dude food: chicken wings that work just as well in front of a football game on the television as at a Chinese New Year party. They are sweet, spicy, sticky, fragrant and full-flavored, and they have a fine, shiny lacquered coat. Top with a scallion and cucumber relish spiked with roasted peanuts, sesame oil and hot red peppers. A bed of sliced juicy navel oranges can serve as a foil to the spicy heat.


  • 3 lbs. meaty chicken wings, tips removed
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine or sherry
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 small cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 6 scallions, slivered
  • 3 small hot red chiles, very thinly sliced (or hot green chiles), optional
  • 2 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves
  • 2 navel oranges, sliced


1. Rinse the wings, pat dry, season lightly with salt and put them in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, cayenne and orange zest, then pour over the wings and massage well. Let marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or refrigerate (overnight is fine) and bring to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the wings in one layer in a low-sided baking dish or roasting pan (or use 2 pans) and place on middle shelf. Every 8 to 10 minutes, brush the wings with the marinade from the pan, adding 3 or 4 tablespoons water to dissolve the juices as necessary. Continue until well browned, glazed and cooked through, about 40 to 45 minutes. The wings may be cooked ahead and reheated if desired.
3. Pile the wings on a warm platter. Quickly assemble the garnish. In a small bowl combine the cucumber, scallions, chiles, crushed peanuts and sesame oil. Season with salt, toss lightly and scatter over the wings. Sprinkle with the cilantro. Surround with orange slices and serve.


David Tanis


4 servings