Thai Curry Chicken Wings
Iain Bagwell
Yields20 ServingsCook Time1 hr 30 mins
AuthorJames Syhabout

When cookbook editor Leslie Jonath was thinking about contributors to tap for her big-batch book, Feed Your People: Big- Batch, Big-Hearted Cooking and Recipes to Gather Around, she knew she had to include James Syhabout. The creator of the Bay Area’s Hawker Fare, Hawking Bird, and Commis restaurants, he grew up among Isan Thai, Laotian, and Cambodian immigrants in Oakland. Squeezed into subsidized housing, the tenants held epic parties. “Dinners floated from apartment to apartment,” writes Syhabout in his own recent cookbook, Hawker Fare. “The messy prep would be all spread out on last week’s free newspapers, in colorful plas- tic or enamel bowls and plates. The women cooked without recipes, using only their eyes, their tongues, and their hands, which always remembered.”

Syhabout recalls how his mother used to make this chicken dish when he was a kid, with just the tips of the wings, since they were cheap and delicious. Here he uses widely available upper wing parts instead, but the intensely aromatic (rather than hot) seasonings are the same. If you want it scorching, bite into the sauce’s whole arbol chiles, or throw dried Thai chiles into the curry paste.

Beer pairing: Ice-cold Southeast Asian lager such as Phuket or Singha

Equipment:

  • 2 to 3 large (6- to 8-qt.) pots
  • Roasting pan
  • Large rice cooker (or pot)

How to Make It

1

The morning before, make curry paste: Trim grassy tops from lemongrass stalks, then trim roots. Peel off woody outer layers and discard. Thinly slice stalks crosswise and transfer to a food processor. Add shallots, garlic, curry powder, and salt, and pulse into a coarse paste.

2

About an hour before dinner, let someone prep the rice while you make the curry with a couple of guests (each of you will make 1 batch): Divide oil, curry paste, and chiles between 3 large Dutch ovens or heavy pots. (If that’s not possible, set one-third of ingredients aside and make 2 pots of chicken first; pour into a large roasting pan and keep warm in a 200° oven while you cook the third batch.) Start with a cold pan and cold oil to keep the garlic in the paste from burning. Fry paste and chiles over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is very fragrant, about 5 minutes.

3

Divide chicken wings, oyster sauce, and fish sauce between pots and stir to coat wings. Add 1 cup water to each pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, until sauce is reduced to a loose paste (oil will separate) and wings are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

4

Top with green onions and cilantro. Serve hot, with rice and Cucumber and Shallot Pickle, and a bowl for the bones. *Ask your butcher to trim the tips, or buy “party wings,” which are the first and second joints, cut apart.

Ingredients

Curry Paste
 2 lemongrass stalks
 3 cups chopped shallots (4 or 5 large)
 18 garlic cloves, peeled
 9 tbsp yellow curry powder, such as Madras
 2 tbsp kosher salt
Curry
 3 cups canola oil
 1 batch Curry Paste (above)
 1 ½ cups dried arbol chiles
 15 lbs whole chicken wings, tips chopped off at the joint*
 1 ½ cups oyster sauce
 ¾ cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
 8 green onions, halved lengthwise, then cut into 2-in. lengths
 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
Serve With
 20 to 25 cups steamed jasmine rice
 Cucumber and Shallot Pickle
 Ice-cold light lager

Directions

1

The morning before, make curry paste: Trim grassy tops from lemongrass stalks, then trim roots. Peel off woody outer layers and discard. Thinly slice stalks crosswise and transfer to a food processor. Add shallots, garlic, curry powder, and salt, and pulse into a coarse paste.

2

About an hour before dinner, let someone prep the rice while you make the curry with a couple of guests (each of you will make 1 batch): Divide oil, curry paste, and chiles between 3 large Dutch ovens or heavy pots. (If that’s not possible, set one-third of ingredients aside and make 2 pots of chicken first; pour into a large roasting pan and keep warm in a 200° oven while you cook the third batch.) Start with a cold pan and cold oil to keep the garlic in the paste from burning. Fry paste and chiles over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is very fragrant, about 5 minutes.

3

Divide chicken wings, oyster sauce, and fish sauce between pots and stir to coat wings. Add 1 cup water to each pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, until sauce is reduced to a loose paste (oil will separate) and wings are tender, 20 to 30 minutes.

4

Top with green onions and cilantro. Serve hot, with rice and Cucumber and Shallot Pickle, and a bowl for the bones. *Ask your butcher to trim the tips, or buy “party wings,” which are the first and second joints, cut apart.

Thai Curry Chicken Wings