Sticky Wings Malaysian Street Style

sticky wings

Sticky wings are messy, and that’s a good thing.

Sticky wings remind us that it’s okay to be a carnivore. They remind us of a simpler time, sitting around the cave with that trendy new cooking device someone cleverly named “fire”. Remember how proud you were to be the first neanderthal on the block with an indoor inferno?

But there is more to sticky wings than just primitive domination of lesser creatures. Wings have more modern pleasures as well. Wings make it okay to dribble sticky sauce all over those brand new $245 jeans. Because stains only make them better, right?

Sticky wings make kids and grandmas alike stick their face in their food and giggle while they eat.

But the best thing about these sticky wings is the way you feel after you have devoured an entire plateful. No need to feel guilty about overindulgence. Because bragging rights are the best part about eating wings. Not only is it cool to pig out on wings, it’s a badge of honor. Eating 4 or 5 sticky wings may fill you up, but eating 20 or 30 moves you to the head of the table; often to rowdy cheers, chants, hoots and hollers!

And it’s not just quanity that earns respect either. There is also that illustrious look of awe on your friends’ faces when you discuss the decibel level of the heat implications of the mighty chile pepper that adorns these wings. I have heard people proudly proclaim “…them wings were so hot I couldn’t even taste ‘em!”

Wine Pairing

2012 Fortant Hills Reserve Viognier 

Fortant “Hills Reserve” 2012 Viognier
What do you do when you want a glass of white wine but you’re not in the mood for the in-your-face acidity of a grassy Sauvignon Blanc or a rich, been-there-done-that buttery Chardonnay? How about a Viognier? This relatively rare, aromatic wine is big enough to stand on its own yet also plays well with others (food that is) […]
Ken Eskenazi

Price $15

Pairs well with curry, mango salsa, caramelized vegetables, rich seafood, smoked or cured meats, cheese

Well I can be a good sport about messy faces, massive quantities, and even tongues blazed raw– but I draw the line at feeling giddy about not tasting my food. Wings can be messy and they can be spicy, but they gotta be delicious.

My wings are all these things and something more. Shhhh… they’re healthy too. Or at least they’re healthier…  my sticky wings are baked, not fried. Honestly I have nothing against fried foods. In fact I love fried foods and indulge myself in them when I see fit. The thing about wings is that they don’t have to be fried to be delicious. The secret is in the sauce. It’s patterned after the Malaysian street food chef Zak Pelaccio “fell in love with when he lived in Kuala Lumpur”. According to Food & Wine magazine, “Pelaccio’s favorite cart sold chicken wings, which he’s re-created in his new joint [Fatty Crab, NYC], using ginger, fish sauce and molasses for a richly pungent sauce”.

Bold flavors can be difficult to pair with wine, but not impossible. Ken put his pairing cap on and matched these sticky wings with a 2012 Fortant Pays d’Oc “Hills Reserve” Viognier. The wine’s lush floral aromatics work with the salty sweet components in the sauce because the heat is kept subtle and is more of a tingle than a burn. GREG

sticky wings

Malaysian Sticky Wings 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Slightly adapted from Zak PelaccioPublished
sticky wings


  • ½ ounce dried red chiles (such as arbol)
  • 3 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 ½ tablespoon anise seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce (be sure it’s low-sodium)
  • 2 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 10 clove garlic (peeled and lightly smashed)
  • 1 (4‑inch) piece ginger (thinly sliced)
  • 4 pound chicken wings
  • 3 cup shredded Napa cabbage (loosely packed)
  • 1 cucumber (cut into bite-sized pieces)


In a small skillet, toast the chiles, coriander seeds, anise seeds and cumin seeds over moderate heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind to a fairly fine powder. Transfer the ground spices to a medium bowl and whisk in the sugar, molasses, apple juice, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic and ginger. Place the wings in a large bowl and pour in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the wings from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels; reserve the marinade. Arrange the wings on a wire rack set over a foil-covered baking sheet in as close to a single layer as possible. Use 2 racks if necessary. Roast for about 35 minutes, or until well browned and cooked through. The sugar in the marinade may make them appear quite dark, but don’t worry and be sure to cook them all the way through.

Meanwhile, strain the marinade into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and cook over medium-low heat until reduced by half and beginning to get thick and sticky, about 20 minutes. Transfer the marinade to a large bowl. When the wings are done, add them to the bowl and toss to coat with the sauce. Pile on plates and serve immediately with cabbage and cucumbers on the side.