Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings are a Chinese takeout classic and one of my favorite recipes to make at home!
This is a KEY ingredient in this recipe – the cornstarch dredge dries out the chicken skin, which allows them to get extra crispy when fried! Make sure the chicken wings are covered completely, with no bald spots.
I get asked all the time if you can sub black pepper for white pepper – and my answer is, it depends BUT you need to watch the ratio. White pepper has a milder flavor profile than black pepper, so it’s a 1-1 substitute. I would start with less black pepper and add as you go. (But really, you should have white pepper in your pantry! It’s a staple in mine!)
If you cannot or do not want to use wine, you can sub with sherry, mirin, or chicken stock!
I used Fresno chili peppers and jalapeños, as I enjoy spicy food and wanted to taste a moderate level of spice. If you are sensitive to spice, I would omit the Fresno chilis and jalapenos and sub with bell peppers instead. If you want to turn up the heat, I would use Thai chili peppers or Serrano chili peppers!
MARINATE FOR AT LEAST ONE HOUR (UP TO 24 HOURS)
You will want to marinate the chicken wings for at least one hour. If you have the time, I would recommend marinating the chicken overnight for maximum results.
BE CAREFUL WHEN DICING CHILIS
I learned this the hard way – be very careful when dicing chili peppers! Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling the chili peppers, and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES.
Do not let your frying oil drop below 325-350F when frying! I highly recommend you use a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. If you see it dropping below 325F, fry your wings in batches. Frying at a low temperature will result in too much moisture (AKA SOGGY!)
Chinese Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings
- 1.5 lbs chicken wing drums and flats separated
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp shaoxing wine
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic grated
- 1 tbsp ginger grated
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 2 fresno chilis diced
- 2 jalapenos diced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ginger miced
- 3 cups neutral oil for frying; I used avocado oil
- serrano peppers thinly sliced, optional garnish
- If using whole chicken wings, separate drums and flats at the joint and marinate with salt, white pepper, shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, garlic and ginger. Cover and marinate for 1 hour or up to overnight for maximum flavor.
- Dice your fresno chilis and jalapenos (do not touch your eyes!) along with some garlic and ginger and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup of corn starch, kosher salt, and white pepper until combined.
- Dredge your chicken wings in the cornstarch dredge and cover completely, leaving no bald spots.
- Heat neutral oil to 350F and fry for 5-6 minutes (oil should not drop below 300F) or until the internal temperature of the wings reads 165F. Place on a wire rack and immediately sprinkle with white pepper while hot.
- To a hot pan, heat 1 tsp of oil and fry garlic and ginger for 15 seconds, followed by your peppers. Stir fry for 1 minute (pan should be relatively dry), then add your chicken wings and toss for 1 minute until the peppers and chicken wings are combined. Garnish with thinly sliced serranos for extra heat and serve!