Szechuan Chicken Wings with Explosive Chile


Ingredients:

  • About 2 quarts of canola oil
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, separated into drumettes and midsections (or flats), wings tips discarded
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 cup dried red Chinese chiles, or dried Arbol chiles
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled. very thinly sliced, then thinly sliced into matchsticks
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Directions:
  • Pour 2 inches of the oil into a Dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed pot. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 300 F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer.
  • Working in batches of 6 to 7 pieces, fry the chicken wings in oil, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the temperature of 300 F, until the skin is opaque but not browned, about 3 to 5 minutes (the wings will not be cooked though). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the wings to a large bowl and toss with generous amount of salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • When all of the wings are fried, let them cool completely. Cover the baking sheet and place in the freezer for at least 3 hours or overnight. Set the oil aside to use later.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 F and arrange the rack int he middle. Place the star anise, red pepper flakes, cumin, and peppercorns in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toast until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Using the spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, grind into fine powder; set aside.
  • Place the chiles in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until slightly darkened and fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes; set aside to cool.
  • When ready to serve, set the reserved frying oil over medium-high heat and bring to 350 F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer. Working in batches of 6 to 7 frozen wing pieces, fry, turning the wings occasionally, and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a temperature of 350 F, until the wings are cooked through, golden brown, and crispy, about 6 minutes.
  • Immediately transfer each batch to a large bowl, season with salt and 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, and toss to coat. Place on a serving dish and repeat with the remaining wings.
  • When all the wings are cooked, place the reserved chiles, ginger, 1 teaspoon of the spice blend, and 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in the large bowl and toss to combine. Scatter the mixture over the chicken wings and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.
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