IVTV is back! Thanks to everyone who watched and enjoyed Episode 1, Foraged Rosehip Syrup, last week — your positive feedback and hours of unusable footage (but I’m learning!) bring us to Episode 2: Thai Stuffed Wings — one of my all-time favourite street foods. In this episode, I debone a turkey wing, then stuff the resulting pocket with a mixture of ground pork and aromatics. Finished off in a wok full of hot oil, this is one serious street-side snack.
Turkey wings aren’t always easy to come by, so this recipe takes advantage of their availability during this Thanksgiving/Christmas time of year. Turkey wings are now available on their own in many supermarket meat departments, and since no one that I know of has ever reached across the table to snatch a wing from the holiday platter right under Aunt Gladys’s nose, I also suggest removing the wings from your bird before you roast it for the big day.
They’re just so much better this way.
In the late 80′s, at the age of 19, I spent several months in South East Asia. I had come home from hitchhiking across Japan a few months earlier, only to discover that a few high school friends were planning a trip to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. So, instead of starting university, as I had promised my Mom I would do once I had gotten the travel bug “out of my system,” I got another semi-crappy job to earn the money to join my friends. I doubt she was that surprised — I know my Dad wasn’t — he stuffed a fistful of bills into my hand at the airport, gave me a hug and gruffly told me to “Go learn something.”
I have subsequently been to University, College, Forklift training, FedEx University, Time Management seminars, Continuing Ed courses, weekend baking classes, Culinary School, and more weekend baking classes, to name a few. I know more things because of all that education, and I won’t deny that all that knowledge comes in handy.
But I had some life-changing experiences while traveling. Some on my own, and some with friends. Adventure, danger, exhilaration and freedom were what I/we sought, and I/we got them in droves. Luck also played a part — there’s no way any of us would be here if it hadn’t.
But that’s another story.
Knowing what I did and the chances I took, I would have difficulty letting a child of mine travel in my footsteps. I won’t ever have to face that decision, but I know that how I think and who I am today is a direct result of my parents’ encouragement and the financial support they gave me to go out and see the world, the way I wanted to.
The world I found in SE Asia was not the clean, relatively safe, entitled bubble that I had grown up in. Of course, we all know that on an abstract level — but it’s not until you step through the sliding glass doors into the throng that is the Jakarta Airport taxi stand at night that you find out what that other world is really like — and whether you really do have the street smarts you claimed to have back home.
The biggest lesson I learned was that I wasn’t as smart as I thought I was. A little humility never hurt anyone — especially at 19 years old.
“Wait a minute,” you’re probably saying, “isn’t this a food blog? Where’s the street food you promised?”
My journey through Japan was a gentle, and delicious, introduction to street food. Is there anything better than meat grilled over charcoal? It’s hard to beat, especially when accompanied by a thick dark sauce. I sought out the street-side tents of Yakitori vendors all over Japan. Their warm and smoky interiors, where a few customers huddle around the hibachi while they gingerly pick tender chicken off skewers, are a safe haven in the winter.
In SE Asia, street food got a little more intense. My friends and I found ourselves navigating through a series of immense, and sometimes scaringly real life food markets, mostly at dinner time. We would wander, seemingly aimlessly, amongst the smoky, pungent stalls, avoiding the live animals and whole carcasses, and always looking for the same three things: something new and tasty, something familiar and tasty, and something slightly-challenging, but still tasty (adventurous we were, Bourdain we were not).
These wings quickly became my familiar choice across Thailand. It’s like chickens and turkeys were given wings just so that we could stuff them with ground pork. Well, it’s not like they’re used for migration — am I wrong?
Chicken wings are what you see stuffed in Thailand, and may be the easier-to-eat choice for cocktail parties. Chicken or turkey, once you’ve had one, you’ll agree — stuffed wings are moving inside from their previous home on the street. Step away from the bar Buffalo, Bangkok is coming through…
Thai Stuffed Wings
Serves 2 (easily increased to feed an army)
|Rice Noodles||20 g||¾ oz|
|Ground Pork||125 g||1/4 lb|
|Green Onions, whites only, chopped fine||2|
|Garlic, minced||10 ml||2 t|
|Ginger, minced||5 ml||1 t|
|Sherry||15 ml||1 T|
|Fish Sauce||15 ml||1 T|
|Soy Sauce||5 ml||1 t|
|Sugar||5 ml||1 t|
|Cornstarch||5 ml||1 t|
|Egg, lightly beaten||1|
|Vegetable Oil for frying||1-1½ L||1-1½ Q|
|Soya Sauce||60 ml||¼ C|
|Sugar||15 ml||1 T|
g=grams oz=ounces lb=pounds ml=millilitres t=teaspoon
T=tablespoons L=litre Q=quart TT=to taste C=cup
Soak the rice noodles in hot tap water for 15 minutes. Drain, and chop noodles coarsely.
As per the video, remove the large bone and meat located in the first joint of each wing, without ripping the skin. Once the bone and meat are removed, use your fingers to gently separate the skin, in order to increase the size of the pocket.
Make the stuffing – combine the noodles, pork, green onions, garlic and ginger in a bowl. Combine the next 6 ingredients in a small bowl to combine well, then add to the pork mixture along with the lightly beaten egg. Use your hands to mix up the stuffing well.
Stuff the wings with the pork mixture, stuffing each pocket firmly. Fold the top flap of skin over the exposed stuffing and set aside.
Heat the oil to 350° F (175° C) over med-high heat in a large saucepan, wok or deep fryer large enough to hold the wings.
Slowly and gently slide the wings into the oil, one at a time. Cook, basting regularly and turning occasionally, until the wings are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season with salt & pepper and serve.
- To get the wings to a darker, mahogany colour worthy of a sit-down dinner, glaze them: preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C). In a small sauce pan over med-high heat, combine 60ml (¼ cup) soy sauce and 15 ml (1 tablespoon) sugar. Allow to boil 1 minute, then remove from the heat and cool 5 minutes. Brush liberally all over the wings, then bake them 5 minutes. Serve with a salad and some rice.
- Can’t find turkey wings? Substitute 3-4 chicken wings for each person.