I wish the Food Network would bring back The Best Thing I Ever Made. I love the show and watch reruns when TIVO finds them for me. A few months ago I made Grandmother's Chinese Chicken Wings from Andrew Zimmern and we really enjoyed them. I always get great recipe ideas from this show. Recently I watched the rerun of the Grilled episode of The Best Thing I Ever Made. Adam Gertler shared his recipe for Vietnamese Lime Chicken Wings. I was intrigued with this dish the first time I watched the show, but did not have a local source for kaffir lime leaves. When I found kaffir lime leaves at Whole Foods, I knew I had to try this odd little recipe for chicken wings!
I say odd because the ingredients for the marinade include powdered chicken bouillon, pureed shallots, and 20 kaffir lime leaves, along with a few other things. The bouillon powder is very salty, so don't leave the marinade on for more than an hour to avoid the wings being too salty. I made only a couple of changes, to suit our preferences for salty, sweet and heat. I like all three, but Michael prefers less salt and heat. I try to meet him in the middle.
If you aren't familiar with them, kaffir lime leaves are often joined in pairs. They are the leaves of the trees that grow kaffir limes, a large, bumpy, and bitter lime. Kaffir lime leaves have a very unique and fragrant flavor. The leaves are widely used in Thai and Lao cuisine. Do not substitute leaves from regular lime trees. They are not the same. Kaffir lime leaves can be found online, in Asian markets and at Whole Foods.
The marinade is thick and chunky and it smells divine. The recipe makes more than I needed to coat the wings. I am freezing the extra for use on Super Bowl Sunday.
Adam Gentler grills the chicken wings but I baked and broiled them. I was too lazy to take the cover off the grill and it is freezing outside. Weather permitting, I may grill them next time but why fix what ain't broken, least until the weather warms up? Here is my recipe adapted from the original. You can find Adam's recipe by clicking HERE.
- ⅓ cup chicken bouillon powder
- ½ cup Vietnamese chili sauce or Sriracha
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large shallots (pureed)
- ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
- 20 kaffir lime leaves (stems removed and finely shredded)
- 24 whole chicken wings
- Cilantro for garnish
- Grasp the lime leaves by the stem and strip the rest away, discarding the stems. Stack the leaves up and roll them into a tight bundle. Use a sharp knife to cut the lime leaves into fine shreds.
- Combine the powdered bouillon, hot sauce, honey, oil, shallots puree, rice wine vinegar and lime leaves in a medium bowl. Whisk together. Reserve some of the marinade for basting, and place the rest in a resealable plastic bag or shallow pan with a tight-fitting lid. Toss the chicken wings in the marinade in the bag and allow to marinate between 30 minutes and 60 minutes. Do not marinate any longer or the wings could be too salty.
- Remove the wings from the marinade and discard any marinade left in the bag or pan. Bake the wings on a sheet pan in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes. To finish the wings, brush with the reserved marinade and place the wings under the broiler until crispy and a little charred. Watch closely. The sweet marinade will burn quickly.
- Transfer the hot wings to a serving plate and top with cilantro leaves.