Sichuanese Chicken Wings
SICHUANESE CHICKEN WINGS SERVES 4 TO 6
This take on an American finger food favorite gets its spice from Sichuanese pepper and is stir-fried with aggressive amounts of chiles, which—despite their fiery red appearance—add more flavor than heat. These wings are baked, not fried, but still have a wonderful crunch.
3 pounds chicken wings, split in half, wing tips removed (optional)
2 tablespoons crushed red chile flakes
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Sichuanese peppercorns
1 star anise pod
1 cup dried red Chinese chiles
1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, julienned
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the chicken wings out on it. Sprinkle them generously with salt. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the wings are golden brown and crisp. Drain off the fat and transfer the wings to a serving bowl.
In a cast-iron skillet set over medium-high heat, toast the red chile flakes, cumin seeds, Sichuanese peppercorns, and star anise, shaking the pan constantly, until the spices are toasty and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Immediately pour them into a bowl to stop the cooking. Cool slightly, and then grind to a powder in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
In the same dry skillet, toast the dried chiles, shaking the pan constantly, until they darken in color and smell fragrant, 3 minutes.
To serve, toss the wings with the ground spice mixture. Then add the toasted whole chiles and the julienned ginger. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve at once.