Comfort Cooking: Chicken wings that taste like char siew

Sweet savoury chicken wings cooked with a char siew marinade. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

SINGAPORE - For a sticky twist on grilled chicken wings, try cooking them with a char siew marinade.

Since the marinade is big in both salty and sweet flavours, you do not have to steep the chicken wings in it overnight. Two or three hours of marinating will suffice.

I use Chinese rose wine as it helps to cut down on meaty odours and it lends a sweet perfume to the meat. I use a premium grade so one or two drops are enough - too much and the floral perfume gets overwhelming.

Chinese rice wine (bai mi jiu) that is clear in colour is ideal for this marinade. If you do not have it, you can substitute it with Shaoxing wine.

Preserved soya beans add depth and complexity to the flavour of the meat.

I prefer using maltose instead of honey as it is more economical and does not taste as sweet. It only costs about $2 for 500g. If you do not have it, just use honey but reduce the amount of sugar by 10g.

Keep the remainder of the marinade in the fridge. Do note that maltose hardens when chilled. To use, take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

If you prefer your chicken wings to have a darker hue, add one or two drops of dark soya sauce to the marinade.

Separating the whole wings into drumlets and wings makes for easier grilling.

Sweet savoury wings



12 whole chicken wings (1.1kg)

2 drops of Chinese rose wine

40ml Chinese rice wine

40g sugar

80g preserved soya beans

1½ Tbs light soya sauce

25g oyster sauce

150g maltose

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped


1. Rinse the chicken wings.

2. Cut the chicken wings to separate the drumlets from the wings.

3. Use a fine skewer to pierce the wings and drumlets.

3. In a deep dish, add the Chinese rose wine, Chinese rice wine, sugar, preserved soya beans, light soya sauce, oyster sauce and 120g of maltose. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

4. Add the chopped garlic.

5. Place the drumlets and wings in the marinade. Mix well and, while wearing a glove, massage the marinade into the meat.

6. Leave to sit for 10 minutes.

7. Clingwrap and place in the fridge for two to three hours.

8. Remove from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking.

9. Preheat the oven to 220 deg C for 10 minutes.

10. Line a baking tray with foil. Place a wire rack on the baking tray.

11. Arrange the drumlets on the baking tray, skin side down. Save the marinade for basting.

12. Grill for 10 minutes at 200 deg C, then turn the drumlets over.

13. Take 1 tsp of the remaining maltose and brush it onto the drumlets.

14. Baste the drumlets with 2 Tbs of the marinade.

15. Grill for another 10 minutes until the wings are cooked through.

16. Set aside the drumlets.

17. Arrange the wings on the baking tray with the underside of the wings facing up.

18. Repeat steps 12 to 15.

19. Remove the wire rack.

20. The drippings in the tray should be like a thick sauce.

21. Place the drumlets and wings in the baking tray and toss them in the sauce to glaze them.

22. Serve immediately.

Serves four

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