Brought to you by Rockpool Dining Group
Sauce-rich Cantonese dishes often populate the plates at Australian Chinese restaurants. But at Sydney’s Spice Temple, it’s the cuisine of the Sichuan, Yunnan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangxi and Xingjiang provinces that crowds the menu. In these regions, chillies are favoured in all their forms, whether fresh and fermented, dried or pickled, and the eatery’s signature spice fried chicken wings with heaven facing chillies embraces this heat. But what’s the formula for keeping them juicy with a critical amount of crunch? Head chef Andy Evans lets us in on the secret.
Tell us a bit about Spice Temple’s signature fried chicken recipe.
Fried chicken on the bone is very popular in Asian culture; it retains more flavour and can be prepared in so many different ways. Our version is based on the Sichuan-style of fried chicken, as it contains the roasted heaven-facing chilies and Sichuan peppercorns.
What makes the signature spice fried chicken wings with heaven facing chillies so succulent?
They’re first poached in a red master stock, which imparts loads of flavour and makes them very tender. The wings are left to cool in the stock and then removed to the cool room. Finally, they’re chopped into pieces, coated in egg wash and dredged in seasoned flour.
What exactly is a “heaven-facing chill”?
Heaven-facing chillies are grown predominately in Sichuan province, China. They’re short and very plump and as they grow, they grow upwards to “face heaven”, whereas most other chillies grow downwards due to gravity. They have a delicious warm heat and smokiness. These chillies can be used in many ways and you can increase your heat levels by adding more and toasting them gently.
Image: David Griffen
What are the most important aspects of getting this recipe right?
Use free-range chicken – always. Make sure your master stock is very well seasoned. Toast the chillies but don’t burn them.
What’s the best oil to fry them in?
Vegetable oil because it has no dominating flavours.
The ultimate question: should they be served with or without sauce?
Ours have no sauce but are tossed with roasted chilies and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You could serve any chili sauce you like with them, such as tabasco or sriracha.
What are the best accompaniments to fried chicken wings?
Wings done well don’t need anything else – you just need lots of them. Beer is generally best suited as a drink but if you’re going with wine, go for something that has residual sugar to work with the spice of the wings. Riesling works very well.
Make a booking for Spice Temple here.
Top image: David Griffen