Chop PHX: Angel Wings

Tired of the same old tired orange chicken and California rolls? Want to venture beyond the standard suburban-stale take-out? Here comes Chop PHX, with the Valley's rarer Asian offerings.

This Week: Angel Wings from Thai E-San (616 W. Indian School)

The Basics: Angel wings are chicken wings stuffed with marinated meat, steamed and then deep fried. They are typically served with a dipping sauce and spicy cucumber salad. If you have ever felt that chicken wings would be vastly improved by the omission of their fiddly bones, this dish will appeal to you.

Angel wings are not exactly traditional Thai food. According to Thai E-San manager Pui Pongtratic, they are a fusion of Chinese and Thai traditions. Pui explained that the preparation of this dish is labor intensive and Thai E-San is only one of a handful of Valley Thai restaurants that serve it. While our research was by no means exhaustive, we did contact several restaurants and none of them served this dish.

Chicken stuffed in chicken? I feel a meme coming on...

Thai E-San's Angel Wings:
Most angel wings are stuffed with a mixture of pork and chicken. In deference to pork-free diners, Thai E-San stuffs their wings solely with chicken.

"It's really a lot of work," Pui explained. The process of making angel wings takes around 2-3 hours although much of that time is to allow the stuffing to marinate.

First, they debone the largest chicken wings they can find. Then they mince the chicken and mix it with garlic and cilantro roots. This mixture is marinated for at least two hours and then stuffed back into the deboned chicken wing. Thus combined, the wing is steamed for 20 minutes and allowed to cool. Finally, the wing is dipped in egg, breaded and deep fried to perfection. The double cooking method, steaming and then frying, ensures that the stuffing remains tender while the outside fries up pleasingly crunchy.

Angel wings are generally accompanied with sweet and sour sauce or a spicy cucumber salad.

Should I be scared? If you think of it as Asian fried chicken you should be fine.

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