My friends will tell you that I am the worst of hermits – preferring the company of myself and my own thoughts over large throngs of people. I am most comfortable in a small intimate setting, and shy away from crowds. Even in friendships, I am more attracted to those who are similarly soft spoken and introspective, than those who may be outgoing and loquacious. I am obviously an INTP personality type (introversion, intuition, thinking, perception), and I will say that it has served me well over the years. Though recently, I have to admit, it has gotten me into a lot of trouble. I find myself declining (more often than not) party invitations and shirking other social responsibilities, and as a result, I have essentially ostracized myself. I think I have stepped on a few too many toes and potentially offended one too many friends with this type of behavior. I don’t want to justify what I do, but at the same time, I cannot help what and who I am. What Myers-Briggs personality type do you fall under, and how closely does it describe you?
Vietnamese Style Chicken Wings
Cánh Gà Chiên Nước Mắm
I inherited from my mother this terrible habit of never writing down recipes. We don’t believe in recipes. My mother has incredible intuition in the kitchen, and relies solely on sensory cues to guide her. I, as a result but to a less successful degree, am the same way. Here, my mother was kind enough to actually jot down a few measurements for a delicious wings recipe. It’s a perfect game day dish and is finger-licking good. The sticky fish sauce enrobes the crispy, succulent wings. Each bite is a perfect balance between salty, crunchy, spicy, sweet, and tangy. It’s perfect for a crowd, and a good deviation from your typical Buffalo wings.
4 lbs chicken wings, cleaned
1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c corn starch
2-3 tbs garlic powder
lots of freshly cracked pepper
For the sauce:
1 1/2 c sugar [more/less to taste]
1 c good fish sauce [I use Flying Lion brand, about $2-3 at your local Viet supermarket]
1/3 c fresh lemon juice [more/less to taste]
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs Thai chili pepper, minced [it’s hard to find Thai chilis here, so I used Serrano instead]
1-2 tbs Sambal Oelek chili [optional]
If you are lucky, your local grocery store will sell a bag or tray of pre-cut wings. If they only have whole wings, you will need to separate each wing along the joints by first removing the wing tip, then cutting down the center joint to split the drumette and wing. You, of course, will only be using the drumette and wing, so reserve the wing tip for making chicken stock or some other application. Also, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not you should clean/wash your chicken. I am a huge proponent of cleaning chicken, as I like to remove any excess fat or skin, and also remove feathers/hairs that might still be attached. It’s up to you, of course. Either way, you will need to make sure the chicken is completely dry before continuing.
In the meantime, whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a deep bowl. You will be tossing the fried chicken wings in this bowl, so make sure that the bowl is deep/large enough. Also, if you find that the sugar stubbornly refuses to dissolve, simply microwave the sauce for 30 seconds or so, and continue stirring. That should help the sugar particles dissolve. I’ve included both fresh chili peppers and chili paste here, mostly for presentation purposes. I think the red and green look so lovely in the bowl, but you can certainly leave out, add more, etc. to your liking. You will notice that this nước chấm is thicker and saltier/sweeter than what you’re use to – and that’s ok. Our chicken isn’t seasoned, so it is going to need all the help it can get with this sauce. Set the bowl of sauce aside.
Fill a deep pot (or your deep fryer) with ~3″ of canola oil and preheat to 365 degrees F. A few tips for successful deep frying – it is important to keep a constant frying temperature. Too much change in the temperature will result in a soggy mess. To ensure a constant frying temperature, don’t be tempted to crowd the pot, as that will definitely bring the temperature down. Slow and steady wins the race, remember? Also, for the best and longest lasting crunchy skin, keep your heat on medium-low (as opposed to high heat) and maintain that constant temperature. The lower heat will take longer to cook/brown, but that additional cooking time will allow for a longer lasting crunch. While frying will always result in some (painful) splatter, you can minimize it by (1) making sure your chicken is dry and (2) using a deep pot with tall sides.
In a large plastic ziploc bag or tupperware container, stir together the flour, corn starch, garlic powder and ground pepper. Place the chicken in the container, seal the container, and shake vigorously to coat each piece of chicken. Prior to frying each wing, make sure to tap off any excess flour. This ensures a nice thin, even coat.
Set up a work station around your frying pot, so that the dredged chicken and the fish sauce are nearby. Start by placing a few wings in the hot oil and fry until a deep golden brown, about 7 minutes. Immediately remove from the oil using a spider skimmer or a pair of chopsticks, allowing most of the oil to drip off. Immediately dunk the hot chicken wing into the fish sauce, flipping as necessary to coat the wing. Remove the wing to a plate, and repeat with remaining chicken wings. Serve hot and enjoy.
Close up so you can see the garlic, peppers and that lovely skin.
While I do not believe that the Myers-Briggs test and classification are the be-all and end-all, I do think that it is important to know thyself. That is, a lot of personal conflicts could be easily avoided if you knew yourself better – what makes your clock tick, what makes you go apesh!t, who makes you really happy, who makes you mad, etc. And it’s important, then, to find at least a few individuals who are similar enough to keep you engaged and satisfied. I am not encouraging having a group of homogeneous friends – that would be terribly dull – but that you still have a few people you can count on to make your inner gears happy, who really understand the essence of YOU, who get who you are. That’s super important. For a hermit like myself, the world would be a very lonely place if those people didn’t exist. So thank you, you know who you are.
Incurably and unapologetically me,