Before I continue, I’d like to say something – why is it that apple fanatics insist upon heaping ridiculous amounts of love on anything Apple? When I was at the Apple store in Ginza at least 2/3rds of the customers were foreigners (white, clearly fresh-off-the-boat touristy* foreigners). And people, they were taking pictures of the Apple store and the products (from outside). I was like “…huh?!” Because folks, Apple only makes like 12 different products and they’re the exact same thing here as they are in your home country…! If you’re an uber geek I can understand tracking down some obscure ultra-mobile Japan-only Supar Sekrat Edition Sony Laptop in the backstreets of Akihabara. But taking pictures of the exact same macbooks and ipods they sell in your home countries? Really? You came all the way to Japan and that’s the most exciting way you could find to spend your time?
*They were wearing backpacks and shorts. If you’ve been here for a while, then you’ll understand.
Anyway. So after my little adventure in consumerism, my friend and I got hungry and wandered into the basement of a random department store where we decided to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant. Now I haven’t had Vietnamese food in a while, and usually when I do of course it’s usually Pho. But this time we ended up having a set lunch (which was amazingly hearty and a great value – in ginza! can you believe?) and it included some Vietnamese fried chicken wings.
Oh. My. God.
Those of you who know me know that Panda loves him some chicken. Chicken is awesome. Chicken is like the perfect meat. If I could only choose one food to eat for the rest of my life it would be a hard choice between plain white rice and chicken. And fried chicken!? Oh god…. Fried, spicy, tangy-sauce coated Vietnamese-style chicken wings!? … let’s just say that I made sounds of pleasure whilst eating that caused my companion considerable consternation (though I was too busy eating to pay heed).
So suffice it to say, it was unbelievably delicious. And of course I had to try and make it at home later that week. You can see the fruits (the chickans?) of my labour in this poast. I overcooked them a little bit (I have a gas stove so it’s really hard to regulate the oil temperature consistently, even with the aid of a thermometer) but they were still incredibly delectable.
I’d toss you the recipe, but it’d make more sense just to point you to the website (here) where I got the recipe from. However, making the chicken is just half the story. The other half is the Nuoc Cham sauce which is probably one of the most mouth watering savoury sauces I have ever stuffed in my muzzle. For that, I would point you to the website where I got the recipe, but alas I hast lost the link. So I’ll just write it below:
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp of red pepper flakes (togarashii in Japanese)
- 3 tbsp of white sugar
- 2 tbsp of lime juice
- 4 tbsp of vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam, probably sold in the asian foods aisle)
- 1 cup of water
Mince up the garlic really finely. Then, mix everything together in a big bowl and you’re done! I’d recommend being cautious with the red pepper flakes at first if you don’t like spicy foods, since this sauce can get pretty hot quickly. I like to add a little more lime juice than the recipe calls for, but taste it at first to see.
So there you have it! Vietnamese style fried chicken wings with an incredibly delicious Nuoc Cham dipping sauce! (Have I mentioned how much I love the sauce!? It goes great on other stuff besides chicken too!) A couple words of caution though, before you go plunging off on this little culinary expedition. First, look at the ingredients. Do you see the garlic, onions, fish sauce and so on? Your kitchen is going to smell…! It’s worth it, but you know, if you live in a dorm or whatever, I wouldn’t make this in the shared kitchen unless you want everyone to hate you (although they will likely forgive you after they taste the final product!) Also, look at the Nuoc Cham sauce picture above. Those are bits of minced garlic floating on top – you will not be kissing anybody for a while after you eat this!
Finally, you’ve gotta deep fry the chicken wings in hot oil. If you don’t usually deep fry stuff, this can be a little scary – make sure you use a deep, sturdy pot that won’t let the oil bubble over after you put the chicken wings in. Have a lid handy in case of dramas, and preferably a fire extinguisher too. Make sure not to put too many chicken wings in there at a time either – slow and steady does it. Use a thermometer to check the temperature carefully. And remember – oil fires suck big time. If it happens to you, don’t panic and whatever you do, don’t throw water on it. Turn off the heat and cover the pot with the lid (you did have that lid handy, didn’t you?) and wait for it to go out.
Okay that’s it! Good luck and happy eating!
Now listening to: Maor Levi – Shapes (original mix)
I really dig this song, especially right around the 2:30 mark when the sort of ‘ethereal’ voices come in. It’s so damn chill… perfect for a long drive to somewhere far away at night.