Japanese Chicken Wings are baked with a light and crispy coating in an Asian-inspired sauce prepared with soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. They are super moist and tender on the inside with a golden crispy skin on the outside. It’s hard to share these wings, because they’re just so delicious!
Can I be completely honest? I have no idea why these are called Japanese Chicken Wings. All I know is that the recipe has been handed down to me, and that I have personally made this recipe a million times, and each and every time, it’s delicious! Even though the title of the recipe, and the recipe card itself is about wings, I’ve used this same sauce and cooking procedure on chicken legs and thighs.
I’ve tried my best to research what Japanese chicken really is, but my research skills are not that great. Since beginning to write this blog, I’ve always found the names of recipes and the origins to be quite interesting. It was something I never really gave a thought about previously, but it’s great to look into these things and learn a little bit about why recipes are the way they are.
No matter what you call these wings, they are an absolute delight – even more so for me, because I get to eat all of them. You see, whenever I can, I like to cook meat at home, especially if I know John.e is going to be away. He’s a vegetarian, so I try to prepare vegatarian dishes when he’s at home. I save the good stuff, like these wings, for when he’s away!
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I CALL IT SELF THERAPY
If he schedules an after work dinner with one of his friends or old school-mates, I run to the store to buy meat. If he decides to go for a brunch on the weekend, I run to buy meat. Even when I’m invited along, I tend to find a reason to decline so that I can, well, buy meat! It’s my very own version of therapy!
So, now that I have purchased these wings, I need to cook them. And, for these chicken wings, I couldn’t think of a better way then to bake them in a salty, sugary sauce. You’re going to love this appetizer! I usually refer to wings as appetizers, but if I’m being completely honest with you, I think chicken wings are more a meal or a main rather than an appetizer. My mom never made appetizers but she did make Japanese Chicken Wings very often and they were always the main part of the meal.
A really cool thing about thinking about chicken wings as a main rather than an appetizer is that you get to eat more of them! I can’t possibly think of any other reason more valid than that.
And, because we are baking this wing for a whole 50 minutes, which is a long time for baking wings, we are doing so to get that crispy skin even after it’s been baked in that soy and vinegar mixture. Trust me, these wings are fail proof and you’ll be extremely happy with the results. Eat up, Dear Reader!
BAKING WINGS ON RACKS
Science comes in to play when baking wings at high temperatures on a wire cooling rack. The wire rack keeps the wings elevated so that heat can get all the way around each and every wing. That, coupled with the high temperature, helps to render out the fat in the skin. This also helps to make the wings crispy without the need for frying.
Because you develop the crisp skin first, the wings will be nicely browned too even before you place them into the sauce. Because of the soy in the sauce, the chicken will further brown – look at how beautiful they are in these photographs! They are absolute perfection!
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO PREPARE THIS RECIPE
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
For the Chicken Wings:
- Chicken Wings – This recipe is for 2 pounds of chicken wings. That should yield about 10-12 wings per pound. If you have whole wings, cut them so that the drumette and wingette are separate. I discarded the wing tip.
- Cornstarch – This is the base of the batter. It will keep the batter light and crispy.
- Paprika – There are three types of paprika – sweet, smoked, and hot. For this recipe, use sweet or hot, depending on what you prefer.
- Ground Black Pepper & Salt
- Non-Stick Cooking Spray
For the Sauce:
- Garlic – Again, fresh garlic is needed here.
- Low Sodium Soy Sauce – I tried using regular, but it was too salty for my tastes. If you only have regular, do not add the full tablespoon. Cut it with half soy sauce and half water.
- Sugar – Sugar will caramelize when baked, which will help to brown wings.
- Vinegar – The acidity helps to regulate and and balance the sweetness. You can use white vinegar, rice vinegar, or cider vinegar.
- Sesame Seeds – Toast your sesame seeds for even more flavour!
- Green Onions – For freshness and garnish.
HOW TO TOAST SESAME SEEDS
If you are not familiar with toasted sesame seeds, then please try it just once. You will probably never revert to using untoasted sesame seeds again! I have tried using non-stick frying pans for toasting, but nothing works as well as a stainless steel pan. You could use a cast iron pan, but since they get very hot and retain heat so well, it’s easier to burn the seeds.
See the frying pan in this picture? That’s the exact one that I use all the time. I’m not suggesting you run out and buy this same cookware set, but I wanted you to see the pan – remember, do not use non-stick if possible. You’ll get better results with plain stainless steel.
So, unlike most cooking where you’re required to preheat first, you don’t want to apply that same rule to toasting seeds. Add the seeds to a cold pan. Place the pan on the burner and turn the heat on – no higher than medium and probably even less if using a gas burner.
Keep the seeds moving about. I use a rubber spatula. Once you start to smell that warm and toasty aromatic smell, pay close attention. The seeds will take on a slightly golden colour. Don’t let them get too dark. Once you’re satisfied, immediately remove them from the hot pan and transfer them to a dinner plate where they can be spread out to cool.
Lord Byron’s Notes
I made mention that you should use a low sodium soy sauce, otherwise the sauce may be too salty. If you only have regular soy sauce on hand, you can use half the amount of regular soy sauce and half water. This will dilute the salt. Yes, it will dilute the soy sauce flavour a bit too, but the dish will still be delicious!
HOW TO MAKE JAPANESE CHICKEN WINGS
Baking the Wings
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a cooling rack on it. Set that aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, paprika, salt, and ground black pepper. Transfer wings to the mixing bowl and toss well until coated with cornstarch mixture.
Next, coat the cooling rack with cooking spray and transfer the wings to it. It’s imperative to lay the wings out so that they are not overlapping or even touching for that matter. The space between the wings will encourage faster cooking and more browning.
Bake the wings for 40 minutes. Remove them from the oven and use tongs to turn each wing over. Place them back into the oven to bake for 10 more minutes. Once done, remove from oven and set aside.
Making the Sauce
After the wings go back into the oven for a second time once turned over, start to prepare the sauce. Add the garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar to a large skillet. Over medium heat, whisk the ingredients together until the mixture comes to a low boil. The ingredients will cook and just slightly thicken to form a glossy sauce. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove it from the heat and set it aside until the wings are ready.
Saucing the Wings
Once the wings are done, transfer them into the large skillet with the prepared sauce. Over medium-high heat, bring the sauce to a bubble, tossing the wings to coat well. Add the sesame seeds and toss into the wing and sauce mixture. Continue to toss over high heat until the sauce thickens even more the wings are bit sticky. Plate, garnish your Japanese Chicken Wings with green onions and more sesame seeds. Serve immediately with celery and carrot sticks with your favourite veggie dip.
EXTRA SAUCE? FREEZE IT!
A sauce that freezes well is always preferred. And, I freeze just about every sauce I make. The only sauce or dip that I refrain from freezing are hummus dips or avocado/guacamole based dips. They just do not hold up well after being thawed.
The sauce used in this Japanese Chicken Wings recipe can be frozen and thawed quite easily. In fact, oftentimes, I will double or triple the sauce so that I have it on hand whenever I might need it. Now, I firmly believe that a saucy wing recipe needs to have an abundance of sauce, but not everyone feels the same way. You can make the batch as written in the recipe and save some for the freezer.
Use up what you need to, but freeze the rest and just thaw it and re-heat it later. You can even portion the leftover sauce out into ice-cube trays and freeze them that way. When completely frozen, pop them out and save them in a freezer-friendly resealable bag. Take out one or two when you need them and keep the rest frozen for up to three months. Pop those little frozen sauce cubes into a stir fry, or even fried rice!
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Japanese Chicken Wings
For the Chicken:
- 2 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, and cut into two pieces
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- non-stick cooking spray
For the Sauce:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- Green onions for garnish thinly sliced, optional
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a cooling rack on it. Set that aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, paprika, salt, and ground black pepper.
- Transfer wings to the mixing bowl and toss well until coated with cornstarch mixture.
- Next, coat the cooling rack with cooking spray and transfer the wings to it. It’s imperative to lay the wings out so that they are not overlapping or even touching for that matter. The space between the wings will encourage faster cooking and more browning.
- Bake the wings for 40 minutes.
- Remove them from the oven and use tongs to turn each wing over. Place them back into the oven to bake for 10 more minutes.
- After the wings go back into the oven for a second time once turned over, start to prepare the sauce.
- Add the garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar to a large skillet. Over medium heat, whisk the ingredients together until the mixture comes to a low boil. Once the mixture starts to bubble, remove it from the heat and set it aside until the wings are ready.
- Once the wings are done, transfer them into the large skillet with the prepared sauce.
- Over medium-high heat, bring the sauce to a bubble, tossing the wings to coat well.
- Add the sesame seeds and toss into the wing and sauce mixture. Continue to toss over high heat until the sauce thickens even more the wings are bit sticky. Don't cook for more than 3-4 minutes.
- Plate, garnish with green onions and more sesame seeds. Serve immediately with celery and carrot sticks with your favourite veggie dip.
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