Travel the world’s barbecue trail and chicken wings are a constant—slathered with hot sauce in Buffalo, New York; spit-roasted with garlic and lime in Brazil; marinated in beer in Australia; and salved with sesame oil and sweet soy sauce in Singapore. That’s the inspiration for these wings, which bring additional crunch to the party in the form of a nutty sesame seed crust.
Step 1: Cut each chicken wing through the joints into 3 sections. You’ll use the larger section (the part that resembles a small drumstick) and the middle section. Discard the wingtips or save for stock. To turn the larger section into a drumette, make a cut in the meat to the bone around the circumference of the small end, just above the joint. Scrape the meat from this end up to the larger end to form a ball. Scrape the bone clean. You should wind up with what looks like a miniature drumstick.
Step 2: Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallion whites, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the wings. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, stirring a couple times so the wings are seasoned evenly.
Step 3: Meanwhile, set up your grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium. Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well.
Step 4: Drain the chicken wings well, reserving the marinade. You’ll boil the marinade with hoisin sauce to make a sauce (see below). Have the sesame seeds in a shallow bowl at grillside. Dip each chicken wing in sesame seeds to coat completely and arrange the wings on the grill grate away from the heat. Close the grill lid.
Step 5: Indirect grill the wings until the sesame seeds are browned, the skin is crisp, and the meat is cooked through to the bone (make a little slit in the largest wing to check for doneness), 30 to 40 minutes.
Step 6: Meanwhile, make the sauce: Boil the reserved marinade for 3 full minutes. Then, whisk in the hoisin sauce, adding more as needed to taste. Let cool to room temperature.
Step 7: Mound the wings in a shallow bowl or on a platter. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with the reserved scallion greens. Serve the sauce in small bowls on the side for dipping.
For Vietnamese-style wings, substitute fish sauce for 2 tablespoons soy sauce in the marinade and 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass (the pale parts only) for the lemon zest in the marinade. Dip the chicken wings in finely chopped
peanuts instead of sesame seeds.
For Pac-Rim buffalo wings, douse the Sesame Soy Chicken Wings with the fire butter.
As always, buy organic chicken when possible. For sesame oil, use an Asian brand, like Kadoya from Japan. The most cost-effective way to buy sesame seeds is at an Asian or Middle Eastern market or in bulk at a natural foods store.
Insider Tip: Smoke isn’t really part of the Asian flavor palate, so I don’t call for hardwood chunks or chips here. You can certainly add them if you want to.