As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a stipend of $50 to pair a dish with one of the many beers of New Belgian Brewing Company.
When something good happens, you want to celebrate in some way. There have been some year-long prayers that have been answered this week. Having answered prayer just made my heart leap up with joy and my voice shout out! YIPPEE!!! Along with shouting out, it also made me want to spend some time with the people who have lifted me up continually in prayer, and so I decided to invite them over for my beer pairing experiment.
As I'm not an avid beer drinker (not any alcohol really), trying to pair a beer with a dish was mildly out of my league. I did some research, asked some beer experts, and then finally decided to pair Fat Tire Ale by New Belgian Brewing Company with some Asian wings. In my mind I had the flavors worked out and knew what I wanted it to taste like and I simply hoped that the imagination would match the actual flavors.
I marinated the chicken over night and then dredged them in flour once before frying. The result? Super flavorful and crispy chicken. I had some beer and food connoisseurs over and asked of they felt that the chicken went well with the beer, and they all agreed that it did. Now, being the curious person that I am, I couldn't let THEM decide that it went well together so I also decided to take some beer with some chicken down. The first bite of chicken washed down with the Fat Tire Ale, I have to say was a new experience of flavor and deliciousness. The pairing was wonderful, the beer bringing out the wonderful spices of the chicken while the chicken brought out flavors and notes in the beer I had no idea existed. I don't KNOW what to call those flavors and notes, but certainly I noticed the complexity of the beer. With the chicken, the beer suddenly became filled with various tones that seemed to hit with the various flavors of the chicken.
The meal wasn't fancy by any means; we ate in my dining room/music room on a fold-up table with no tablecloth. We used paper plates and compostable plastic forks. But there was a lot of laughter, a lot of eating, and a pure enjoyment of time well spent with good people. Good friends, good food, good fun I like to say.
I also learned a very important lesson from this - if you are going to learn to fry chicken, definitely learn to fry with chicken wings and NOT large chicken pieces. There is a certain "beginner" level experience that comes from wings with a high success rate, even for novice fryers. I felt like a professional as I dredged my chicken through the flour and lay them all out on my cookie sheet. I fried 12 at a time, and fed my crew well, and they enjoyed it all.
Asian Fried Chicken Wings
Serves 8 to 10
6-7 lbs wings, separated into drummettes and wings (tips reserved for use another time)
2 cups coconut milk
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons chopped ginger
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons sambal oelek (fresh ground chili pepper - available at your local Asian market)
4 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon salt
Vegetable oil for frying
lime wedges for serving
In a large bowl mix together coconut milk, cilantro, ginger, garlic, sambal, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Once combined, add chicken wing pieces. Stir to submerge coat chicken well in marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
In a heavy pot or deep fryer, heat oil and bring to 325 degrees.
While the oil is heating, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, garlic powder, ginger powder and salt. Remove wing from marinade and toss in flour until fully coated. Set aside on rack and repeat with remaining wings. Once the oil has reached 325 degrees, add enough wings so that you have room to stir them if necessary. Fry for about 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.
Serve hot with lime wedges and some Fat Tire Beer.