It’s summertime here in Los Angeles and that means picnics at outdoor movies, backyard barbecues and…fried chicken. At Button Mash in Echo Park, Nguyen and Thi Tran are serving up their fried chicken three different ways. I’m partial to the wings tossed in a sticky tamarind glaze. The chicken is fried twice, then gets its kick from a healthy dose of ginger, chili garlic paste, black pepper and, of course, tamarind paste in the sauce. When topped with pomegranate seeds, the wings are extremely pretty on the plate.
Prior to popping up at Button Mash, Nguyen and Thi’s Starry Kitchen restaurant occupied various spaces around town. If you don’t live in LA, you’ll soon be able to try their food in the comfort of your own home, thanks to a new cookbook to be published next spring by Harper One. The working title of the book — and I hope it doesn’t change — is “The Adventures of Starry Kitchen: Going Balls Out.” So named after everyone’s favorite crazy green vegan tofu balls. Yes, please.
Double-Fried Chicken Wings
Yield: Makes 1 pound of fried chicken wings
Fried Chicken Ingredients
1 lb of chicken wings
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
1 tbsp salt
2 tsps freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or canola oil for deep-frying
Season the chicken wings with salt and pepper. Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Prepare the batter: In a bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch. Dredge the chicken wings through the mixture and shake off any of the excess batter.
For the chicken: In a deep-fryer or a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil to 350ºF. Then deep-fry the batter-coated wings in small batches for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack or paper towel-lined baking sheet. Rest for at least 5 minutes.
Working again in small batches, deep-fry the wings a second time for 10 minutes more. Transfer to the wire rack or (new) paper towel-lined baking sheet again and set aside.
Yield: Makes about ¾ of a cup of sauce
Tamarind Sauce Ingredients
½ cup Japanese rice vinegar
2 tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsps light soy sauce
2 tbsps tamarind paste
2 tbsps fresh ginger, minced
1 tbsp chili garlic paste
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1½ tbsps granulated sugar
Prepare the sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce and stir to dissolve the sugar completely.
Add the fried chicken: Once the sauce has begun to thicken, add the double-fried chicken wings to the pot and toss to coat evenly with the Tamarind Sauce.