A perennial favorite of my mother’s barbecue is her honey-glazed chicken wings – whole wings marinated in a mixture of light soy sauce (san chau) and chopped green onion which are then grilled slowly over medium-low heat then over high heat until they’re a beautiful mahogany. These are brushed with honey and served. Initial burst of honey on the crisp caramelized skin gives way to juicy, tender meat. Best right off the grill.
As awesome as these wings are, the grilling process is not particularly fast, which can be a problem when you’ve got a horde of hungry guests. The wings just can’t be cooked too fast on the grill – the skin will burn, the fat will not have had time to render off, and the interior will still be raw. And with the wings taking up valuable grill space, you can’t even throw faster-cooking things on.
This weekend I experimented with accelerating things by starting the wings in the oven. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and put the wings in for about 10 minutes. From there, they were put on a charcoal grill and cooked until the skin turned mahogany. It worked out quite well, though the skin was a little drier than I’m used too. My fellow diners gave positive reviews, so I think I’m on the right track. I might try covering the pan with foil when the wings are in the oven to prevent the skin from drying out too much.
This definitely helped streamline the grilling process – without the wings hogging up grill space, food was ready to go much faster.
Soy sauce sidebar
Chinese soy sauces (Pearl Bridge, Kimlan, Lee Kum Kee), typically come in two styles, light (san chau), and dark (lou chau). If you’re wondering why my Chinese romanizations don’t match Wikipedia, it’s because I’m using an ad-hoc Cantonese romanization as opposed to the Mandarin pinyin. At any rate, light (san chau) soy sauce is a light colored sauce which is typically saltier than the dark (lou chau) and thinner in consistency. The dark has more depth of flavor due to the added molasses and works well with beef. The dark is also used to add color to a dish. Also, soy sauce works pretty well as a meat tenderizer.