Sesame Hoisin Chicken Wings From Bill Kim's "Korean BBQ"

Sesame Hoisin Chicken Wings

I’m a big sports fan, so great tailgating food is important to me (especially if your team is dogging it with bad plays). I like to use smaller wings and/or drumettes because they are more tender than the monster-size ones you get at a lot of bars. Keep an eye on the wings while they are cooking, as they can char quickly because of the sugar in the marinade. If they start to brown too much, move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.

  • ½ cup Soy Balsamic Sauce (below)
  • ¼ cup Magic Paste (below)
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • ½ cup thinly sliced green onions, white and green parts
  • 3 pounds chicken wings and drumettes
  • Korean chili flakes (optional)

PREP TIME: 15 minutes

MARINATE TIME1 hour

COOK TIME: 20 minutes

FEEDS: 6 people

In a large bowl, combine the Soy Balsamic Sauce, Magic Paste, hoisin sauce, and green onions and mix well. Measure out ½ cup of the marinade and reserve for basting the wings on the grill. Place the chicken wings and drumettes in a large, shallow dish, pour the remaining marinade on top, and turn the wings and drumettes to coat evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Heat the grill for indirect heat cooking to medium (350°F to 375°F). (If using a charcoal grill, rake the coals to one side of the charcoal grate; if using a gas grill, turn off half of the burners.)

Place the wings and drumettes on the grill grate away from the heat, close the lid, and cook for 5 minutes. Flip the wings and drumettes over, baste them with some of the reserved marinade, close the lid, and cook for another 5 minutes. Flip the wings and drumettes over two more times, moving them directly over the fire, basting, and cooking for 5 minutes on each side. Sprinkle on some Korean chili flakes, if you like things a little spicier.

Transfer the wings and drumettes to a platter and serve.

Soy Balsamic Sauce

This recipe is very dear to my heart, as it was my first attempt to use ingredients that didn’t normally go together, but made sense to me. In Asian cooking, vinegar is often used to cut saltiness from soy sauce or other ingredients. For me, balsamic vinegar has the perfect mix of sweetness, acidity, and body to combine with the brown sugar and soy sauce here.

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, or as needed
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup soy sauce

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

COOK TIME: 10 minutes

MAKES: 1 cup

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water until the cornstarch dissolves and the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream, adding more cornstarch if the mixture is too thin.

Combine the brown sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir the cornstarch mixture briefly to recombine, then stir it into the soy-vinegar mixture and simmer over low heat for about 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from the heat, let cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container. This sauce will last for months without going bad. 

Magic Paste

I call this Magic Paste because, for me, it’s the ideal combination of ingredients. It’s got sweet spiciness from the ginger, funkiness from the fish sauce, nuttiness from the sesame oil, and gentle heat from the Korean chili flakes. This paste is the secret to how we make kimchi every day at our restaurants.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes

MAKES: 1 cup

Combine the ginger, garlic, and fennel seeds in a food processor and process until minced, periodically scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all of the ginger gets chopped. Add the fish sauce, oil, and chili flakes and process for 30 seconds.

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months. Or freeze in standard ice-cube trays, then transfer the cubes (about 2 tablespoons each) to plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months.

Reprinted with permission from Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces, copyright © 2018 by Bill Kim with Chandra Ram. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Johnny Autry