Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings (Pok Pok Wings)
This week in food that needs rebranding: fish sauce. More specifically, Vietnamese fish sauce wings as popularized by Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok restaurants. Andy Ricker arguably put fish sauce on the domestic culinary map when he introduced this incredible chicken wing marinade at his flagship Portland restaurant. If you don’t already have a copy, pick up the official Pok Pok cookbook–it’s a serious game changer.
“But Pâté–fish sauce? BRB gagging.” You need to slow your roll, man. Fish sauce is a delicious umami bomb that consists of fermented fish juices and salt. And not to burst your bubble–you’ve probably had it plenty of times at restaurants already without having any idea about it. If you’re still not sold, fermentation happens in food all around you–from beer to yogurt–so give into the sauce and relájate amigo.
We made our Vietnamese fish sauce chicken wings with an adapted recipe so that you can make it all in a speedy 30 minutes. If you have more time, we definitely recommend giving the marinade 12+ hours to soak, but the recipe is great either way. To add a crunch, these wings are topped with crunchy fried garlic.
We paired this recipe with Iron Maiden’s Trooper Beer because: A) metal B) we’re eating wings C) Bruce Dickinson piloted Iron Maiden’s tour plane and D) tangentially related site theme.
30 Minute Pok Pok Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings Recipe
- Vegetable oil
- 2 pounds of chicken wings
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of warm water
- 1/2 cup of fish sauce
- 1/2 cup of superfine sugar (or regular sugar)
- 2 cups of cornstarch
- 1/4 cup neutral water
- Prep wings. Heat 2 inches of oil to 325 (10 min cook time) or 350 (8 mi cook time) degrees in a medium sized pan using a candy thermometer. Heat up to 400 degrees or so because temperature will drop.
- Wrap wings in paper towels to dry and set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, massage minced garlic with salt. Add warm water to mixing bowl and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Place a cheesecloth over a separate bowl and pour water and garlic mixture to squeeze out liquid into bowl below, reserving garlic leftover in cheesecloth for later use.
- In separated garlic water mixture, add ½ cup of the fish sauce and ½ cup of sugar to bowl and whisk.
- In a baking pan, place dried wings and pour in ½ cup of the fish sauce/sugar/garlic water mixture (reserve rest) to quickly marinate. Turn every couple of minutes. Optionally, you can marinate the wings overnight in this mixture.
- While marinating wings, place cornstarch on a large plate.
- Remove wings from marinade and remove excessive liquid from wings (patting lightly with paper towels if necessary). Lightly coat wings in cornstarch and place coated wings on separate plate.
- Fry wings. Once frying pot is ready, place coated wings in frying pot and cook for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
- Separately, heat a medium frying pan on medium heat.
- Add ¼ cup of neutral water to reserved fish sauce/sugar/garlic water mixture.
- Add ½ cup of the fish sauce/sugar/garlic water/neutral water mixture to frying pan and bring to a boil, then reduce for about a minute longer.
- Place sauce in large mixing bowl.
- While sauce is cooking, fry reserved minced garlic from cheesecloth in a small frying pan with vegetable oil.
- Assembly wings. Place golden brown garlic on paper towels to dry and set aside.
- Remove cooked wings and set on plate for 1-2 minutes. Add cooked wings to mixing bowl with sauce and toss to coat with golden fried garlic.
- Plate with chopped cilantro and any remaining fried garlic.
Made Pok Pok fish sauce wings at home? Tag your Vietnamese fish sauce wings photos with #PateSmith or share them in the comments for the chance to be featured onsite!