Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Open Sesame

Sometimes, aroma is everything. Everything to get your drool on, that is. It's an initiator of things, a bringer of memories, a heart-stopper. Get a bad cold and I bet you wouldn't even touch those fries no matter how scrumptious it looks (welp, some people still do!). The sense of smell is just as important as the sense of taste and sight when it comes to food. If you're a mother, you should know that the best people to taste test food are kids because they prove to have a higher sensitivity than adults. 

"Stack of pancakes, you have no idea what I can do to you."

This reminds me of yesterday when I went out to dine with my family at Sunburst Fried Chicken. It's a local chicken place from where I live (Cebu City) which I can safely say, is already an institution. They're around even before I was born. Their fried chicken has got this aroma so distinct that you can never go wrong when you get a whiff of it, you can always tell it's Sunburst. 

My plate of Classic 3-piece Sunburst.

So we had our dinner and I was giddy because I haven't eaten there for years and what do you know, it just wasn't the same. The chicken I so dearly remember doesn't taste the same. Sure it smells the same but I can tell there had been a slight change in the recipe and I went home kind of disappointed but nonetheless, full. 

Let me tell you, the place was packed and I went home thinking "Aroma is everything."

We can make or break your dish.

Not too long ago, I started being conscious about the oils and spices I use in cooking and I've discovered that  those things are very important in improving flavors. A dash of let's say, thyme or a tablespoon of oyster sauce does miracles to a dish. A lot of restaurant style food secrets depend on condiments.

Here's a recipe I've sort of made up. I know that classic buffalo wings are baked and sesame chicken wings are usually grilled so I made mine super easy fried then smothered in sauce. 

Sesame Chili Chicken Wings

For the fried chicken, you will need:
1/2 kilo Chicken wings, drumettes (the little pieces that look like drumsticks) and Mid-joint wing separated
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Lemon or Calamansi juice
1 tsp Black pepper, ground
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup Cornstarch
1-2 cups Cooking oil, for deep-frying

For the sesame chili sauce:
1 tablespoon Butter
1 tsp Garlic, minced
1 small Onion (shallot), minced
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Oyster sauce (optional)
4 tablespoons Banana ketchup
3 tablespoons Sugar
1/2 teaspoon (or more) Chili powder
1/4 cup Slurry (1/4 cup water + 3 tablespoons Cornstarch mix)
1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Sesame seeds


1. First to do is wash the cut up wings and drain off excess water. After this, marinate it in lemon or calamansi juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper for a few minutes. 

2. In a plastic bag, mix cornstarch and flour, add a little salt and pepper. Take all the cut up wings into the plastic bag and shake it up until all the parts are coated. 

3. Heat cooking oil in a deep iron skillet or frying pan and fry chicken until golden brown. This should take about 15-20 minutes per batch. Take wings out of the oil and set it on a tissue-lined plate. Set it aside. 

4. Now, for the sauce, saute the garlic and onions in butter. Add the vinegar and let dry in half before adding in the water. Let this simmer in medium fire for about 3 minutes.

5. Bring heat to low and add in oyster sauce, banana ketchup, sugar, salt and pepper. Taste it and add some more seasoning to your preference. Add in the chili powder. If you want it mild, 1/2 teaspoon is enough. If you're into a spicier dish, eyeball some more chili powder. Let simmer for another 5 minutes before adding in the slurry in small batches.

6. Continue mixing the sauce with a ladle until the sauce is sticky enough. Lastly, add the sesame oil.

7. Drop in the fried chicken wings into the pan while the sauce is hot and mix. When all the wings are coated with the sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds.



Till the next eats!
Chef Shak ♥

*photos before the jump from Getty Images

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