Sunday, July 06, 2008

Chicken Wings Africana

My mother loves chicken wings and her favourite part is the "little drumstick." That's why we have chicken wings so frequently, because my mother buys them very, very often. In her mind, chicken wings are the easiest things to cook. Sauté, pan-fry, soy-braise, bake. . . it's chicken wings every which way.

Given their familiarity, it was hard for us to come up with a fabulous chicken wing dish for our niece's birthday party. We knew most everybody loves chicken wings: at the end of the night, they are always gone. Our guests eat them as appetizer, as entrée, and as after-dinner snack.

I searched the database for their chicken wings recipe and came across this one, which they called "Chicken Wings Africana." The preface to the recipe noted that this was a Macau dish, where African flavours mingled with Asian flavours by way of Portugal's colonization of the territory.

Interesting enough.

I have tried dishes with the marker "Portuguese" at Hong Kong-style cafés (info & info), and I have been intrigued by this "Portuguese" sauce, a red sauce with hints of coconut and curry. We have no idea what this "Portuguese" sauce is, so it was definitely time to find out.

I made the marinade per the recipe.

The marinade for 4 pounds of chicken wings:
4 garlic cloves
2 shallots
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder

2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon crumbled dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

I followed the recipe quite well, better than I usually do with most recipes. I think I added more garlic and more rosemary. I also added the juice of one lemon, because I thought the marinade was just begging for a touch of acidity.

There was also a sauce for the wings that called for peanut butter, cream of coconut and red bell peppers, among other things. For this one, I tried to follow the recipe closely, but I tinkered and added until the sauce tasted right to me.

We marinated the chicken for a few hours (just because we started late; overnight would be best) before putting them in the oven to roast. We put them on the grill for that charred finish.

They were delicious!

Like most of the commenters on the epicurious site pointed out, the sauce was a little overkill. The chicken wings were so flavourful on their own that it needed no sauce to go with it.

As most of us at the party commented, these wings tasted both exotic yet familiar at the same time. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

View the complete recipe at


  1. There's some great flavours happening here and although we all visit's hard to find the gems in the vast pile of rubble.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. There was an interesting article about Macao in an old Saveur. I adore the mixing of cultures in food. A similar mixing happens in Goa. good job.

  3. Oooh, these wings do sound great. That's the best part of the chicken for me. :) I think instead of a separate sauce, adding the coconut into the marinade sounds good. Will have to try these!

  4. The drumstick is also my favourite part of the wing. :)

    These look amazing. And spicy!

  5. yum! i love chicken wings! cook em whichever way and i'm in! hmmm, maybe except boiled or raw hehe

  6. oh my goodness!! i wish i could reach out to these chicken wings!! you make me drooool :-)

  7. Thanks for sharing this - I have some Chinese Five Spice that I've been looking to use creatively and this fits the bill!

  8. wow the marinade is just so full of flavours! How I wish u can send me one, hehe

  9. I'm Haley, Key Ingredient's Chief Blogger. We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)


  10. these wings look terrific, though I may try cooking them completely on the grill.

  11. Those wings look so good! I ate African chicken in Macau years ago. Your post has inspired me to make it!

  12. Those chicken wings look tasty!

  13. something new for me, definitely far from the 'aristocrat' chicken:) but the coconut makes me wanna do this right now! thanks for dropping by! great site here!

  14. I bet these wings were a hit at the party. Looks great!

  15. I'll be ok without the sauce. The marinade on the wings already sound so good! I love the mid-joint in the chicken wings. Ok...I know it's not the healthiest part but mid-joint has been my fav since young.

  16. Wow, I am definitely making this dish on Saturday...looks and sounds fantastic!

  17. That's an interesting mix of spices. So many different cultures represented, which means it's my kind of seasoning :)

  18. Those wings were delicious! :)
    My 3 year old daughter ate more than anyone else!
    Thank you for sharing the recipe, I added Tabasco instead of chilli powder...

    Have a wonderful day, Margot


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