Braised Chicken Wings and Shiitake
Deceptively simple to make, the key to cooking Chinese braised chicken wings and shiitake (black mushrooms) is a perfect balance of flavors. Start with garlic and ginger for the base, then add soy sauce for saltiness, sugar and rice wine for a little sweetness and oyster sauce for an indescribable richness.
- 12 chicken wings
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 one-inch knob ginger peeled and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and lightly pounded
- 5 to 6 shiitake mushrooms soaked in hot water until soft, stems cut off and discarded, and caps cut into halves or quarters
- 1 carrot peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice wine
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pat the chicken wings dry with paper towels and cut each into drumette and wingette (save the wing tips for making broth).
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok and saute the garlic and ginger until aromatic.
- Add the mushroom caps and carrot, and continue sauteeing for a minute.
- Dump the chicken into the wok and cook, stirring often, until the meat is no longer pink.
- Pour in the soy sauce, rice wine and oyster sauce. Stir in the sugar.
- Measure a cup of the mushroom soaking water and add to the chicken.
- Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover the wok and braise the chicken and shiitake for about 20 minutes.
- Midway through the cooking, taste the sauce. If it needs more saltiness, add salt (see notes after the recipe). If more sugar is needed for balance, add a pinch or two of sugar.
- Disperse the starch in two tablespoons of water and stir in the sesame seed oil.
- Pour the starch solution into wok and stir until the sauce is thickened and no longer cloudy.
- Scoop the braised chicken wings and shiitake onto a bowl and serve immediately with hot rice.
Chinese black mushroom is called shiitake in Japan. I’m using the term shiitake here because it is the more well-known name of the mushroom among English speakers. Using fresh shiitake will shorten the cooking time since there’s no need to rehydrate them. However, rehydrated dried shiitake has a deeper flavor. Plus, you get the soaking water which can be used to cook the chicken. That’s definitely tastier than plain water. Now, about the salt. Soy sauces are not created equal and the quarter cup specified in the recipe might not be enough to season the dish correctly. If you add more soy sauce midway through the cooking, the dish will turn too dark and not very appealing. Use salt instead.