A simple way to prepare Chinese-style braised chicken wings. The use of whole white peppercorns makes this dish unusually aromatic.
Chicken wings are very popular in China
Many years ago, I experienced some culture shock when I came to England the first time as a postgraduate student. I was shocked by the high price of food. However, there was one thing that surprised me with its relatively low price: chicken wings.
In Europe, chicken wings are much cheaper than chicken breasts, whereas in China they are the most expensive parts. That was a great discovery for me as I was on a budget, and most importantly, I LOVE chicken wings! They are flavoursome, juicy, delicious served either warm or cold. As a popular ingredient in China, chicken wings can be cooked in numerous ways: red-cooked, honey-ginger flavoured, fried with chilli and Sichuan pepper, roasted with Chinese BBQ sauce, even braised with Coca-Cola or beer etc.
White pepper goes well with chicken
A few years ago, I was impressed by a chicken dish that I had in a restaurant in Beijing. It was steamed pieces of a whole chicken with lots of whole white peppercorns. It was spicy but it didn’t create a burning sensation in my mouth (very different from what chillies do). It had a wonderful aroma that lingered in my mouth for quite a while.
Traditionally, when a Chinese recipe calls for pepper, it mostly refers to white pepper, more precisely, white pepper powder (black pepper only became popular in recent years because of the influence of Western cuisine). So that steamed chicken dish was rather unusual to me.
My simple braised version
I’m not sure what ingredients were used in that particular restaurant dish. I tried to imitate it with four key ingredients: chicken wings, white peppercorns, ginger and dark soy sauce. It worked wonderfully!
In order to make it completely fuss-free, I give it a couple of my own twists: using chicken wings instead of cutting a whole chicken into small pieces (too much bother for everyday cooking); braising it instead of steaming (so it can be done in any wok or pot).
It goes well with many staples
My version of braised chicken wings is one of our family favourites. It goes well with many kinds of staple foods, such as rice, noodles, potatoes or pasta, etc. I served it the other day with egg noodles and green beans as shown in the picture above. You can also serve these braised chicken wings cold, as finger food for example.
My friend Heddi (blogger of Cuisine Helvetica) recently expressed to me her love for easy recipes. But who doesn’t? I’ve encountered quite a few people who believed Chinese cuisine was somehow intimidating. I have to admit it can be. However, there are many ways to make it simple and accessible, without compromising the taste. This “fuss-free braised chicken wings” is a good example of the easy recipes I’d like to share with you on my blog.
One piece of advice for you before moving on to the recipe: I don’t recommend that you use ground white pepper as a substitute. It doesn’t taste the same and it would get burnt easily when fried. You can find whole white peppercorns in Chinese shops, Indian groceries, whole food stores and some mainstream supermarkets.
Other delicious chicken dishes
If you are a fan of chicken dishes, don’t forget to check out other delicious recipes on my blog:
- Black Pepper Chicken Stir-fry (黑椒鸡丁)
- Sichuan Mala Chicken (辣子鸡)
- Mouth-watering Chicken Salad (口水鸡)
- Taiwanese Three-cup Chicken (三杯鸡)
- Big Plate Chicken with Belt Noodles (大盘鸡)
- Spicy Cumin Chicken Thighs
- One-pot Chicken Rice
Braised chicken wings with white pepper
- 10 chicken wings
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 5 slices ginger
- 1 tbsp whole white peppercorns
- 300 ml hot water, 1 ¼ cups
- 2 tsp dark soy sauce, see note 1
- ½ tsp salt
- chive, finely chopped , for garnishing, optional
- fresh chillies, finely chopped , for garnishing, optional
- Wash the chicken wings throughly in cold water. Dry them with kitchen paper. Chop each chicken wing into 3 pieces by cutting its 2 joints).
- Gently crush the white peppercorns with the side of a knife to open them up a bit (but they should be still in the original shape).
- Put oil, ginger and white peppercorns in a wok (or a pot). Fry on a medium high heat until fragrant.
- Place the chicken pieces in the wok. Stir fry until they are slightly brown.
- Add hot water, dark soy sauce and salt. Bring the water to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes on a low heat with the lid on. Give everything a quick stir. Then put the lid back on and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
- Garnish with chive and fresh chilli before serving if you wish (see note 2).
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Have a great day!