John started a series on Sauces last week with his Sweet and Sour Sauce post and not only did that post prove to be very helpful to me, it also got my wheels spinning. Sauces often make the difference between a great meal and a bland meal, they can bring bold new flavors and textures to the plate leading to a very exciting element to a meal. I am TERRIBLE at following recipes and seldom measure anything when cooking, I tend to follow my senses, taste, touch, smell, sight and even hearing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, taste your food while you’re cooking, your seasoning will get better and you’ll develop instinctual habits and techniques that you will carry for the rest of your life. I’ll write a post about some of my tips for making a sauce on the fly in the very near future. This post is about one of those sauces that came to be almost by accident, while I didn’t measure anything I am quite certain I could replicate this sauce without much difficulty because like most of cooking it really boils down to personal taste, style and balance.
As I mentioned in the Shopping For a New Gas Grill post I wrote last month I love wings, they are such a great food that often get’s over looked as pub fare, takeout or just a boring appetizer. I will admit I am a big fan of the traditional buffalo sauce (Franks Red Hot mixed with melted butter to taste) but sometimes you want something that is a little off the beaten trail. I was invited to a party for a friends new grill, the maiden voyage if you will, and had very little time to prepare. I quickly drove to the store and saw bone in wings on sale so I grabbed them quickly and new I could create a great wing sauce to go with them.
I started with a base of Raspberry Jam that I had and was approaching it’s expiration date, I thought that would bring a nice sweet element to the sauce and add a little acid. I then added some Sriracha sauce to the jam and whisked it together. This is a great example of how you must taste while cooking, if you’ve never used Sriracha sauce and you enjoy spicy hot food you must try it, it is a very consistent and flavorful Chili Pepper Sauce, that said a little Sriracha can go a long way, so I had to add it slowly until I had the perfect blend (for my tastes) of sweetness and heat. Once I had reached this balance I added a little soy sauce for a salty element, again tasting until I reached the level I was looking for. I’m addicted to black pepper so I broke out my trusty pepper mill and added a generous portion of black pepper until I had obtained the flavor I was looking for. While I had a nice balanced sauce on my hands it still wasn’t quite where I wanted it so I added some fresh grated ginger for brightness and so that it left a super clean finish in your mouth. Again this was added until I had reached the flavor I was looking for. Finally I added a generous portion of melted butter to bring some richness and creamy buttery goodness to the sauce. I wasn’t too concerned with the butter altering the flavor profile because I knew that all of the flavors would intensify once heated and the butter would brown up and burn off as a whole. I did not plan on cooking my wings and then tossing them in the sauce, I grilled the wings until 95% cooked and then generously cooked/coated the wings in the sauce until they were finished entirely.
The only additional seasoning I added was basic salt and pepper prior to cooking the raw chicken on the grill. I posted this image before but here is what they came out looking like.
What I was left with were amazing crispy skinned wings, with a beautiful caramelized wing sauce that had what I felt was the perfect balance of spicy heat, sweetness, saltiness and brightness. This sauce definitely would be labeled as an Asian wing sauce, Sriracha, Soy Sauce and ginger are all classic items in Asian cooking, but they definitely had a certain American flair, while I think the term fusion is grossly over used and typically a bad idea, this I think classifies as Asian/American fusion.
I’m sorry I don’t have the exact recipe I used, but I think a valuable lesson you can pull from this post is that you can create amazing sauces by trusting your taste buds and continually tasting while creating it. If you focus on creating a balanced sauce that provides the flavor profile you are looking for you cannot lose when combining ingredients for your sauce.