Korean Sticky Wings

What!?  Where are the tea sandwiches!?  Yup, you read it right.  You may not think of chicken wings as your typical tea time fare, but I can assure you that tea goes with carnivorous bites just as perfectly as it goes with pretty little cucumber sandwiches.  There’s nothing like a cool, chilled glass of Jaksulcha (Korean green tea) or Boricha (Barley Tea) to take the edge off of those bold flavors that come with Korean cuisine.

These Korean Sticky Wings are the perfect combination of salty, sticky, spicy, and sweet.  Don’t be too intimidated by their red color though…they have just a bit of heat for flavor but aren’t actually hot (I’d give them a 3 out of 10 on the heat scale).  All you need are your fingers, a tall pile of napkins, and some good Korean tea, and you’re in for one of the best Asian tea snacks around.

The best part about these wings?  They’re baked!  No need for the calories or mess that come with deep-frying here.  Just mix, marinade, and bake and you’re pretty much done!  The broiling step of this recipe concentrates the marinade that drips off of the wings during baking to create a shiny lacquer-like finish.  After the wings have broiled for the first 5 minutes, I like to start checking on them every few minutes thereafter to see how they are coming along, just to make sure they don’t get scorched.

When you first start to see little bits caramelizing or burning at the edges of the wings, it’s time to take them out.  The broiling process creates an amazingly flavorful and meaty sauce that pools at the bottom the baking pan.  As the sauce cools it also thickens, and can then be brushed or spooned on the wings as a shiny glaze just before serving.

Finish the wings by throwing on some chopped green onions, cilantro, roasted sesame seeds, and Korean chili flakes, otherwise known as gochugaru.  If you can’t find gochugaru, then crushed red pepper flakes are a good substitute.  The sticky, lacquered surface on the wings acts like a magnet to any of the garnishes that you toss on them, so be generous!  You can’t go wrong pairing these wings with a glass of chilled Barley Tea or Korean Brown Rice Tea, which is a blend of Korean Jaksulcha and toasted rice.  With Korean Sticky Wings, your casual Asian tea time couldn’t get any easier or more delicious!

Korean Sticky Wings

Makes 12-16 wing pieces.

Ingredients:

{Wings}

1 1/2- 2 pounds chicken wing pieces

non-stick spray

{Marinade}

1 Tbsp gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp honey

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp ginger, grated

{Garnishes}

chopped scallions

chopped cilantro

roasted sesame seeds

gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)

Equipment:

grater

large mixing bowl with cover

large sheet pan

tongs

brush or small spoon

Directions:

1.)  In a large bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together well.  Add the chicken wings to the marinade, then cover and let sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.

2.)  When you are ready to make the wings, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place wings in a single layer on a large sheet pan lightly sprayed with non-stick spray.  Give each wing a quick shake to drain off any excess marinade, then place them on the pan so that they do not touch.

3.)  When the oven comes to temperature, place the tray of wings into the oven and cook for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and flip the wings over, flipping just once. Place the wings back in oven to cook for another 8 minutes.  After 8 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and flip the wings over one last time.  Increase oven to “broil.”  Place wings back in the oven to cook for another 8-10 minutes, or just until the wings get very light burned edges and a dark, glossy finish (check every few minutes after the first 5 minutes of broiling).

4.)  Remove wings from the oven, then let them sit for about 5 minutes to cool.  For a bit of extra gloss, brush or spoon some of the thickened cooking juices/sauce on each wing.  Scatter on green onion, cilantro, roasted sesame seeds, and gochugaru and serve.

Bite-Size Spam Musubi with Green Tea Furikake

There is no snack that Hawaiians and locals love more than SPAM Musubi.  I don’t make these very often as I have a love-hate relationship with SPAM, but whenever I head out to Hawaii I am always reminded of how iconic this specialty is in Hawaiian food culture.  And yes, as crazy as it is to say, SPAM musubi are incredibly tasty!

During my college years at UCLA, I participated in an exchange program to study Asian American culture at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Near my dorm, a local food truck would park itself along the pathway I took to my classes, well-stocked with piping hot SPAM musubis every morning.  I would often pick up a SPAM musubi on the way to sessions, wondering how a snack so seemingly odd could be so delicious.

If we are talking about Asian American food culture, there couldn’t be a specialty more representative of the idea than SPAM Musubi itself.  During WWII, American-made SPAM was actually shipped abroad to feed allied troops.  Musubi, also known as onigiri, refers to a Japanese white rice snack paired with something salty or sweet.  Who would have thought the two ingredients would make such a popular and iconic pairing?

You can tell from these SPAM musubi pillows in the window of a gift shop in Downtown Honolulu that I really wasn’t kidding then I said that this snack is much-loved in Hawaii.  I was really tempted to get one of these, but made the adult decision not to.  If I got a few of them, how fun would my next pillow fight be!?

There isn’t much to making a musubi, the most difficult thing is getting a musubi maker to make all sushi pieces look nice and neat.  I’ve mini-fied my musubis, where 1 regular sized musubi is cut into 3 smaller ones.  These are perfect for a summer party or luau.

I got my musubi maker at Marukai, a Japanese grocery store in Los Angeles.  If you can’t find one, no biggie–just shape the rice into rectangular pieces about the size of a tic tac box, perhaps a bit thicker.

In Japanese cooking, furikake is a condiment that’s commonly scattered over hot rice.  The most common furikake seasonings have flakes of nori (dried seaweed), sesame seeds, or even bonito flakes in the mix, and are commonly used in musubi making.

sencha tin for furikakeWhat makes my musubi recipe extra special is my Green Tea Furikake that’s used to sprinkle over the rice layer of this onigiri.  As you can see from my Homemade Washi Tea Tin, the mix is made with sencha green tea, a steamed Japanese green tea with a spinach-like taste.  Korean red pepper flakes and toasted sesame seeds are also in my Green Tea Furikake, which I originally used to scatter over popcorn as a snack.  Here, sprinkling this mixture over hot or warm rice helps to soften and bloom the tea, and the result is a musubi with a slight vegetal taste and boost of umami flavor.

And if you are feeling a bit lazy like I often do, you can skip the sushi making entirely and just place all the cooked musubi ingredients into a bowl.  I got the idea to do this after Ngan over at Ngan Made It fried up some Panko Breaded Shrimp the other day.  All the same tastes without the fuss–what a clever idea Ngan!

If you want a true taste of Hawaii, this is the recipe where it starts.  Wrapped in little musubi packages or tossed in a bowl, these Bite-Size Spam Musubi are a simple way to appreciate the melding of Asian and American cultures in the islands.  Be generous with the Green Tea Furikake–it’s that little something special that makes these local treats taste over-the-top amazing!

Bite-Size Spam Musubi with Green Tea Furikake

Makes 24 mini musubis.

Ingredients:  

1 can of Lite SPAM

3 Tbsp low-sodium teriyaki sauce or 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce mixed with 1-2 tsp of brown sugar

4 cups just-cooked medium or short grain white rice (I used Calrose), cooled to a temperature where you can handle it with your hands

4 sheets Nori dried seaweed

Green Tea Furikake

Equipment:

sharp chef’s knife

frying pan

small bowl

large piece of plastic wrap

scissors

musubi maker (optional)

bowl of water for making sushi

worksurface

Directions:

1.)  Cut the SPAM.  From each can of SPAM, you should get 8 large pieces (and 24 small pieces, enough for 24 Bite-Size Musubi).  Slide the meat out of the package, then cut once in the middle to create two halves.

Cut each half into half again, then each of those halves into half again.

Since we are making Bite-Size/Mini Spam Musubi, now sit the pieces up on their base and cut so that you get 3 pieces of mini SPAM from each of the regular size pieces.

2.)  Dunk each slice of meat in to some teriyaki sauce.  Just lighty coat the pieces and shake off any excess.

3.)  Pan fry the slices on a hot pan set on low heat for 5-7 minutes, or until you get a bit of a glazed crust on each piece.

4.)  Prep a work surface by laying down a large sheet of plastic wrap.  With wet hands, scoop some of the prepared rice into a musubi maker that has just been run under cold water (this prevents sticking).  Place enough rice in the mold so that when it is evenly compressed, it reaches 1″ up the mold.  For my mold, I used about a 1/2 cup of cooked rice.

rice in musubi maker5.)  Push the rice block out of the mold using the top piece of the musubi maker.

6.)  Generously sprinkle the Green Tea Furikake on the rice block.

7.)  Place the pan-fried pieces of SPAM on the furikake sprinkled rice block, then use a sharp knife just run under cold water to cut out 3 mini musubis.

8.)  Roll each musubi in a 1″ strip of nori cut with scissors, using dabs of water to adhere and seal the nori around the musubi.

Try these Bite-Size Spam Musubi with some of Lupicia Fresh Tea’s Hua Ki tropical Hawaiian Blend and mahalo for stopping by!!