Salt-and-pepper chicken wings are the most well-known specialty at Golden Chopsticks, a 25-year-old Chinese eatery in National City. I crave them at any occasion, but I associate the dish most with celebration. Customers file into the restaurant throughout the day, picking up trays piled high with crispy wings designed to feed a crowd, whether it be a birthday party or a potluck gathering. Owner Thomas Chen says the kitchen goes through thousands of wings on a busy holiday. The golden fried chicken wings are wok-tossed with scallions and red pepper flakes, then showered in a flavor-packed mix of toasted garlic, salt, and pepper. The seasoning combination is quite addictive thanks to the addition of MSG, an ingredient I rarely use at home. The next time I buy a tray, I hope to be celebrating the simple joy of being able to share a meal again with friends and family. By Candice Woo
- 1 1/2 cups cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons cooking wine
- 2 pounds chicken wings (drumettes and flats)
- Peanut oil
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- Half bunch green onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Pinch of MSG (optional)
- Sesame oil
Mix cornstarch, water, and cooking wine to form a batter. Dredge chicken wings in batter. Fry chicken wings in batches in enough oil to cover. Cook through about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
In a separate pan, heat a small amount of oil, then quickly stir-fry garlic, green onions, and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Add in cooked chicken wings and toss with salt, white pepper, MSG (if using), and a few drops of sesame oil.