Spicy Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings – Whole30 and Paleo friendly. A quick dish that’s perfect for game night or any night of the week. Pairs perfectly with ice cold beer or Kombucha for my non-alcoholic drinkers.
One of my favorite dishes from the Chinese restaurant is salt and pepper shrimp and/or calamari. It’s salty, spicy and packed with lots of flavor. I thought to myself, I should do that with chicken wings and make it a bit spicier because my Laotian side is strong when it comes to spice.
A high spice tolerance is in our DNA so I can’t help it. Sometimes I don’t realize that other people can’t handle the heat and need to scale back. So without setting your mouth on fire, I found the perfect spice balance for these spicy salt & pepper chicken wings.
These chicken wing are super crispy and packed with lots of umami flavor. The key is marinating the chicken wings in fish sauce for at least an hour to get that saltiness. Now, before you turn your nose up on fish sauce, hear me out. It’s not fishy, I promise.
Fish sauce is used in a lot of Asian cooking because it’s the secret to getting ultimate flavor, and again, lots of umami. If you don’t do fish sauce or you’re allergic, I recommend you brine your chicken wings in salt and water. You’ll also be using more salt than called for in the recipe since you’re skipping out on the fish sauce.
These are the type of chicken wings best served with ice cold beer or Kombucha if you’re doing a Whole30 or don’t drink beer. I can shamelessly eat a plateful and be perfectly content. If you want to make it a complete meal, just pair it with my cauliflower fried rice and leave out the chicken since you’re already eating chicken wings. These are best served fresh, but if you make them ahead of time, do know they won’t be as crispy.
Speaking of crispy, another key element is using sifted potato starch and making sure you shake off the excess flour. In Asian cooking, rice flour is usually used to get things crispy, but obviously that is off limits if you’re doing the Whole30.
I used potato starch because it’s the closest to rice flour. Another flour you can use is tapioca flour. Either of those flours will work beautiful for this delicious spicy salt & pepper chicken wings!
Spicy Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings
- 1 lb chicken wings split and tips removed
- ¼ - ½ cup potato starch or tapioca flour
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 jalapenos sliced into thin rings
- 1-2 red Thai chili pepper thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 green onions thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
- 1 garlic clove peeled and minced
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp kosher salt*
- ¼ cup avocado oil
Place chicken wings in a single layer in a shallow dish. Pour fish over chicken wings make sure each one is coated. Marinate for at least 1 hour making sure to flip the chicken halfway through.
Once the chicken is marinated, remove it from the fish sauce, place on a large plate and pat dry. You want your chicken as dry as possible because this will help get them crispy.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat with ¼ cup avocado oil or enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet to about ¼ inch in height.
While the skillet is preheating, season chicken with the black pepper and kosher salt. Make sure each chicken piece is seasoned.
Using a large sieve, start with ¼ cup potato starch and sift it over the chicken making sure each one is coated. Flip chicken and coat the other side with potato starch.
Place chicken wings in the sieve. Shake off excess potato starch until chicken has a thin coating of potato starch.
Carefully place chicken wings skin side down into the skillet. Shallow fry for 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked through and deep golden brown. The drummettes may take a bit longer than the flats.
When chicken is cooked through, remove and place on a baking rack if you have one or a paper towel lined plate.
Remove oil from skillet leaving behind about ½ tablespoon. Place jalapeno slices in the skillet and saute for 5 minutes or until it starts to char.
Add in the sliced red Thai chili pepper, green onions, and minced garlic. Saute for another 5 minutes then add the chicken back into the skillet.
Toss the chicken with the jalapenos and heat through. Turn heat off, add in the chopped cilantro and toss until well combined.
*use more salt if you didn't marinate your chicken in the fish sauce.
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