Recipe: Mission Chinese Food’s Chongqing Chicken Wings (La Zi Ji)

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Mission Chinese Food’s Chongqing Chicken Wings (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Mission Chinese Food Chef Danny Bowien was born in Korea and adopted by parents in Oklahoma. From pop-ups to being named Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation, he’s been praised for reinventing what he calls “Americanized Oriental Food” at his restaurants in San Francisco and New York. His new book, The Mission Chinese Food Cookbook, was co-authored with Lucky Peach magazine editor-in-chief, Chris Ying. Featuring some of his most popular recipes, it’s full of the riveting self-expression that has given rise to Danny’s career.

La zi ji is one of the dishes most commonly associated with the Sichuan city of Chongqing, where it’s composed of 95% dried chiles and 5% chicken. At his popular Mission Chinese Food restaurants in San Francisco and New York, Chef Danny Bowien uses a combination of fried chicken wings and tripe for a mix of proteins and a layering of different textures.

Danny’s trick to preparing the perfect chicken wing is to—as he says—”treat it like a French fry: par-cook it, freeze it and fry it.” Freezing the chicken wing causes the liquid in the skin to expand and burst its cell walls, resulting in a perfectly thin, crackly, crispy skin—no breading necessary!