I can’t believe that this weekend is the last weekend of summer! It feels like summer passed by fast and slow, and it’s definitely been a weird one. For the last summer weekend, I really wanted to make something that you could have at a summer party. For that last hurrah before you hunker down for fall. That’s how these Vietnamese fried chicken wings came to be. These chicken wings are really simple, and there are a lot of different ways you can substitute in different ingredients to make them your own (see below). I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you have a nice Labor Day weekend!
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Chicken wings – For this recipe, of course you have to have chicken wings! Even though this recipe calls for chicken wings, feel free to substitute for strips of chicken breast or chicken thighs.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk is a fermented dairy milk that is slightly acidic. Because of its acidity, it works to tenderize the meat and adds some tangy flavor.
- Fish sauce – Fish sauce adds a salty, umami flavor to this marinade. My favorite brand of fish sauce is Three Crabs fish sauce. Red Boat fish sauce is also a good option.
- White pepper & salt – These seasonings add more flavor to the marinade. White pepper can be substituted with black pepper.
- Garlic – Adds more flavor to the marinade. Feel free to substitute with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Corn starch – I experimented with 3 different coatings: corn starch, AP flour, and tapioca starch. I found corn starch to add the best flavor and texture. It is also gluten free which is a win for those with celiac disease. However, I would also recommend AP flour and potato starch (recommended by my followers) as good alternatives.
- Vegetable oil – Any kind of neutral oil should work for this recipe.
- Cilantro – This is optional but adds color and freshness to these wings.
- The glaze: fish sauce, lemon juice, sugar, and water – All the ingredients in the glaze create a balance of salty, sweet, and umami flavors. The water helps dilute the intense flavors of the other ingredients.
Making my Vietnamese fried chicken wings
First marinade the chicken wings. Combine chicken wings, buttermilk, fish sauce, white pepper, salt, and garlic into a large bowl. Use your hands to coat the chicken in the buttermilk and seasonings. Cover with aluminum foil and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.
The next day, prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper and add the corn starch to a bowl. Coat each chicken wing in the corn starch and lay it on the parchment paper. Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Use a candy thermometer to help keep the temperature consistent throughout the frying process. Fry the wings for 5-7 minutes until they are golden. Make sure to fry in batches, so you don’t crowd the pan. After frying, put them on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Combine all the ingredients for the glaze and brush it on the wings. Top with minced cilantro and serve.
Tips on how to make the perfect Vietnamese fried chicken wings
- Use a Dutch oven or cast iron pan – Most people don’t understand that the pan you use to fry food is really important. A Dutch oven or cast iron pan is the best option because they provide the best heat retention which is what you want for a good, even fry.
- Use a candy thermometer for consistency – Temperature is really important to the frying process. Too low and you won’t get that crispy exterior. Too high and you will burn the coating and undercook the interior. That’s why I would recommend getting a candy thermometer to ensure you have a consistent temperature throughout frying. The temperature will fluctuate as you add and take out chicken, so adjust the heat accordingly.
- The magic of buttermilk and cornstarch – The keys to this fried chicken recipe are buttermilk and cornstarch. As I mentioned, buttermilk is slightly acidic, so it helps tenderize the chicken as it marinates, creating for tender, juicy meat. Cornstarch creates an amazing, crunchy coating, and it’s also gluten free! A lot of my followers also recommended potato starch as a coating, but I haven’t tested it. Korean chicken wings usually use potato starch, and I can vouch for how tasty they are. So try potato starch if you are feeling adventurous.
- Marinate the chicken wings overnight for the best flavor – You can probably get away with marinating the chicken for 3 hours, but I highly recommend doing it overnight. Marinating them overnight will give the seasoning time to penetrate the meat.
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Vietnamese Fried Chicken Wings
Fried Chicken Wings
- 2 lbs chicken wings
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 2 cups corn starch
- 6 cups vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp cilantro minced
Fish Sauce Glaze
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- Add chicken wings, buttermilk, fish sauce, white pepper, salt, and garlic to a large bowl. Use your hands to ensure the wings are coated in the buttermilk and seasonings. Cover with aluminum foil and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and add the corn starch to a bowl. Coat each chicken wing with corn starch and set them on the sheet pan.
- Heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Use a candy thermometer to help keep the temperature consistent throughout the frying process.
- Fry chicken wings for 5-7 minutes until golden. Make sure to fry in batches, so you don’t crowd the pan. After frying, put them on paper towels to soak up excess oil.
- Combine all the ingredients for the glaze and brush it on the wings.
- Top with minced cilantro and serve.