These Cajun Smoked Wings take flight in a combination of Korean and Cajun spices with a dark and smoky taste that blends the best of both cultures. If you’re tired of the same ol’ chicken wing recipe, then read on and discover this flavor-filled combination.
My love affair with chicken wings dates back to the first time I was introduced to the snack in the early 80s at a little beach joint in Clearwater, Florida called Hooters. Yep, that’s the one; it’s the one and only original beach bar that started the craze. I didn’t know then that America’s wing obsession—which started in Buffalo, New York—was about to be commercialized and duplicated in every strip shopping center in the country. I soon gave up on the dish and wrote it off as passé and predictable. But, after discovering the Korean-inspired rebirth of this dish, I am now a wingman once more.
On a recent trip to visit my daughter in the other LA, I ventured into the Koreatown section of West Hollywood with a singular objective to spread my culinary wings and discover what all the fuss was about. Ever since Roy Choi rolled out his Kogi Food Truck and served up his first Korean taco, the culinary fascination with all things Korean has been as fired up as the Gochujang red chili pepper paste that shows up in many of the spicy dishes for which the cuisine is known.
My Louisiana roots are planted knee-deep in a keen appreciation for spice. Hot sauce, whole peppers, cayenne, horseradish, spicy mustards, dry seasoning blends, and liquid seafood boil products are just a part of our heat-seeking arsenal of ingredients. And discovering kindred ingredients in the Korean pantry has ignited a fire in my belly. Cajun/Korean (is it Kajun, or maybe Casian, or how about Korajun?) has prompted me to rethink chicken wings and create a hybrid recipe–Cajun Smoked Wings–that pulls flavor from both cultures.
Trust me, and let me take you under my wing for a tutorial. First off, my Cajun Smoked Wings are marinated, smoked, baked, and glazed, not fried. Deep fat frying for speed and mass production is the downfall of most contemporary wing joints. Any part-time line cook paying his way through college can drop a basket and wait for a timer to buzz—it’s idiot-proof. But, to do wings right, I adhere to the 4-step process that most serious wing cooks subscribe. Miss any one of these building blocks of flavor, and you could wind up with mediocrity.
I’m a flats man. Wing tips aside, there are two parts of a chicken wing. I would guess that if you did a survey, most wing aficionados would opt for the little knob of meat at the end of the drumette as the appendage of choice. But I profess my love of the other part—the flat slab of meat protected by two slender bones with moist, pull-apart flavor in every bite. Plus, I like how the flat surface soaks up the sauce, and I applaud the neat stackability of the presentation. To me, it is flat out the tastiest prize of wing eating.
Follow me carefully, and you’ll be flying solo in no time. My cooking methodology is based on 1) a long buttermilk brine, 2) off-the-heat smoking, 3) oven baking, and 4) high-temperature glazing. Tabasco wood chunks (made from the Tabasco aging barrels) gives spicy smoke to these wings. Combining readily available Asian spices with my familiar Louisiana sugarcane molasses (Steen’s is in every Acadiana pantry) is where the cross-cultural balance comes into play. And my house-made Sweet Heat rub is at the heart of this international recipe. Sticky, sweet, with a kick of heat, the flavors in these flats will redefine the art of the wing for you as well. Garnished and stacked high, my Cajun Smoked Wings are an impressive party snack or appetizer, but when combined with a bowl of brown rice, it’s entrée-worthy in every sense.
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon. cayenne
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 40 Chicken wing flats
- 3 cups buttermilk
- ½ cup salt
- Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- Acadiana Table Sweet Heat Seasoning Blend, see recipe
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup sugarcane molasses
- 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1 cup sliced green onion tops
- 4 cups cooked brown rice, such as Supreme
- In a large mixing bowl, mix all spice ingredients together and place in an airtight jar.
- For the brine, add the wings to a large container with tight-fitting lid and cover with buttermilk. Add the salt and a couple of tablespoons of the Cajun seasoning blend. Stir to combine. Add water to brine if more liquid is needed to cover the wings. Refrigerate for approximately 4 hours.
- For smoking on a gas grill, drain the wings from the brine and rinse. Sprinkle both sides lightly with Sweet Heat seasoning, and place the wings on a metal rack. Prepare a packet of wood chips by placing a few handfuls of chips on a large sheet of foil. Tightly seal up the foil forming a rectangular packet and poke several slits in the top. Turn the burner to medium on one side of the grill and place the packet directly over the flame. On the cold side of the grill, place the rack of wings. Close the grill cover and let smoke for 1 hour. Remove and keep warm.(Note: The wings will be lightly smoked, but not cooked through.)
- For the wing glaze, in a large container add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, sriracha, sesame oil, ground ginger, chili powder, and minced garlic. Whisk together to combine.
- Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Spread the wings onto a parchment-lined baking tray, skin-side down. Brush the glaze on one side and then turn the wings to skin-side up and brush again. Place the tray on the top rack of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the tops of the wings with more of the glaze and place back into the oven and increase the temperature to 450ºF. Watch carefully and let the wings cook until they begin to darken on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and keep warm until ready to serve.
- For serving, brush the tops of the wings with more glaze and lightly sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion tops. Serve the wings family-style with the tray in the middle of the table or optionally, mound a scoop of brown rice in a bowl and stack a portion of wings on top for each guest.
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