Recipe: Sticky Spiced Chicken Wings

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Chicken wings, along with marylands, are my favourite part of the chicken. With their high ratio of skin to fat, wings are especially delicious when coated in this spicy Asian marinade and roasted to golden brown perfection.

Twice in one day, while out shopping, I overheard people being afraid of fat. A woman next to me at the butcher was asking if they had soup bones with less fat. Another woman, to whom the butcher was recommending his range of inhouse-made smallgoods, declined them as she said they were too fatty. The two women were of different ages and ethnicities but were united in their fear of fat.

I can understand why they feel this way. When I was around 12, I went on a totally orthorexic phase and removed the chunks of fat from lup cheong (chinese sausage) and ate my toast without any butter or margarine. Fortunately that phase didn’t last for long, but it wasn’t until relatively recently that I have allowed myself to revel in eating fat, and – even better – with the knowledge that the healthy fats now turn out to be actually good for us (such as animal fats, coconut oil, lard, tallow, butter, ghee, macadamia oil, avocado oil, olive oil). I won’t bore you with the scientific details (if you are interested, check out the Further Reading references below), just to mention that fat is necessary for hormone production, improves brain function, nerve signaling and immunity.

I never used to cook chicken wings until I came this recipe and now it makes a regular appearance at dinner, plus leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Sticky Spiced Chicken Wings

16 chicken wings (including wing tips and drumettes)
Lemon juice, to serve

Marinade:

  • 10 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp macadamia oil or extra light olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes (to taste)
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • ⅛ tsp ground star anise (optional)
  • 2 tsp dry sherry or chinese rice wine (Shao Xing)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp (or 1 stalk) chopped lemongrass
  • ½ tsp sumac (optional)
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
  1. Combine marinade ingredients and mix with chicken wings. Marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 180°C.
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  4. Line an oven tray with foil and set a baking rack on top. (If the wings are in direct contact with the foil, the skin tends to stick.) Place the marinated wings on the rack (top side down). Baste with any leftover marinade. Bake for 15 mins, then turn over and bake for a further 15 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown. Squeeze over some lemon juice before serving.

Further Reading

3 ways with Broccoli

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Broccoli is currently in season, it is an absolute bargain so I wanted to present 3 ways to cook it as a side dish for your Go Paleo meals, ranging from the simple and quick to the elaborate and absolutely delicious.

Steamed Broccoli

Suitable for:

  • When you have no time, you want dinner and you want it literally NOW.
  • You don’t have an oven.

Prep and Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Fill a small saucepan with around 1.5cm water. Bring water to the boil. Meanwhile, wash broccoli and cut into florets. When the water boils, place broccoli in the pot, cover and steam for 4.5 minutes. Drain. Eat.

I have tried steaming broccoli in the microwave but find that sometimes the broccoli turns out rubbery, so I would not recommend using the microwave.

Roast Broccoli

Suitable for:

  • When you have a little more time, an oven, and a willingness to have your life changed by the loveliness of roast broccoli with its little crispy edges, such that you can never go back to eating steamed broccoli again. It is well worth the extra time, the flavour intensifies and the broccoli develops delicious crispy caramelised edges.

Prep and Cooking Time: 20 minutes

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Preheat oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with foil and brush lightly with olive oil (or cooking fat of your choice, macadamia oil, butter, coconut oil etc). Wash broccoli and dry thoroughly using a tea towel, shaking out the excess water. Cut into florets. I like to cut the florets quite small so they cook quicker with more surface area to brown. Place broccoli on tray in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes. Around 5 minutes into cooking, open the oven door to release the steam. Turn the pieces and bake for further 5-7 minutes or until nicely singed but not burnt.

You can also use the same technique for cauliflower, although it will take longer to cook.

Roast Cauliflower, Broccoli, Spinach and Mushroom Bake

Suitable for:

  • Entertaining, special occasions, lunches, wedding proposals (yes, it is *that* good)
  • NB. Contains dairy

Prep and Cooking Time: 1 hour

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Serves 5-6

  • Cooking oil of your choice (such as olive oil)
  • ½ large cauliflower head, washed, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1 broccoli head, washed, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 1-2 tsp butter
  • 300g button mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 box (250g) frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 50g sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I am currently loving King Island’s Surprise Bay cheddar)
  • 140g sour cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 45g parmesan cheese, grated

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Brush some olive oil on a large baking dish and set aside. (I use a large rectangular pyrex dish)
  3. Bake cauliflower and broccoli according to instructions above, turning once during cooking. The broccoli will be cooked before the cauliflower, remove from oven and set aside while cauliflower finishes cooking. You want the florets to be lightly caramelised. (Keep the foil from the roasted broccoli/cauliflower to use later.)
  4. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, sauté the mushrooms in butter with a little salt until they have released their liquid and have browned. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the following:
    • eggs
    • sour cream
    • sautéed mushrooms and onion
    • spinach
    • cheddar cheese
    • roasted broccoli and cauliflower
    • salt and pepper, to taste
  6. Lower oven temperature to 175°C. Pour everything into the baking dish and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, remove foil and bake for further 10-12 minutes or until nice and golden on the top.

Variations

  • Add ½ a butternut pumpkin, cut into 2 – 2.5cm cubes and roasted together with the cauliflower. If including pumpkin, add an extra egg to bind it all together.
  • Add a white sweet potato (I like the way the white version stays firm and not mushy when cooked) diced into 2cm cubes, baked along with the cauliflower, they take the same time to cook.

You can prep this dish up until (and including) step 5, and refrigerate until you are reading to bake. If you do this, add an extra 5 minutes to the initial bake time.

Roasted Taro

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In an impulsive fit, I bought a taro the other day and it languished in my fridge for days as I didn’t know what to do with it until I came across a recipe on The Paleo Mom for savoury roasted taro.

If you’ve never seen taro before, it looks very much like something you could imagine your prehistoric ancestors digging up, and then grunting excitedly to each other. Here’s one:

It is available from asian grocers and is a very popular ingredient in Chinese cooking and desserts, although I personally never understood the appeal of taro-based desserts. There is even a taro dim sum (it is the shape of a giant rice bubble, deep-fried with a brown lattice shell). They taste bland and starchy with a similar texture to that of potatoes except drier. Some people extol taro’s “complex flavour”. In terms of their nutrient profile, they are higher in carbs than potatoes (taro has 26g total carbs per 100g vs 17g in potatoes), 112 cal (taro) vs 77g (potato), higher in potassium, fibre and calcium. Taro has a similar profile to potatoes for iron, Vitamin B, magnesium, protein and sugar.

I chopped up my taro into quarters, leaving the skin on for the time being and cooked it in the pressure cooker using the steamer basket for 7 minutes. It could also be conventionally steamed for 10-12 minutes. You don’t want to overcook it otherwise it crumbles, so I cooked it until it had a texture similar to firm potatoes. Once cooked, the skin peels off easily. I chopped it into smaller pieces and tossed it in a large bowl with melted fat left over from roasting chicken (really tasty). Sprinkle with salt and put under the grill (broiler) for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until nicely browned. The edges crisp up deliciously. My favourite parts were the little chunks of taro which had broken off as they ended up uber-crunchy.

So would I eat them again? Maybe. If you can’t tolerate potatoes, taro is a good alternative. It would probably work better in a stew-type preparation as it can absorb the flavours.

Pork, Eggplant & Bitter Melon Hotpot

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Recently Mark Sisson blogged about 4 foods that have medicinal benefits, and I was surprised to discover bitter melon among them. Growing up, bitter melon made an occasional appearance at dinner and it was not one of my favourite dishes, although it did have an astringent quality to it which was interesting and peculiar. After my recent attempt I must say it wasn’t so bad was delicious and I couldn’t detect any bitterness.

According to some studies, bitter melon has anti-diabetic properties and can help improve insulin sensitivity. Given that bitter melon is in season now, do you need any other reason to throw some in your basket and give it a try.

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Pork, Eggplant and Bitter Melon Hotpot

  • 2 tsp macadamia oil or coconut oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small eggplant or half large eggplant, chopped
  • 1 bitter melon (or 2 if you are really keen), seeds and inner pith remove, sliced 5mm thick
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamari sauce or coconut aminos
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp Paleo XO sauce, optional
  • 1 cup chicken stock or bone broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch mixed with 2 tbsp water
  • Chopped fresh coriander for garnish

Method
Fry onion in oil until softened. Add mince, garlic, eggplant, bitter melon, fish sauce, tamari, sesame oil, XO sauce and stock and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until eggplant is soft and completely cooked. Taste for seasoning and add salt if required, and pepper. Add tapioca roux and stir well. Bring to boil, then turn off heat. Sprinkle with chopped coriander. Serve with white rice or cauliflower rice.

I found there was no need to blanche or salt the bitter melon as some recipes suggest, as there was very little bitterness remaining after the braising.