In Charleston you can buy Vietnamese fish sauce at most Asian markets. I like the Three Crab brand, and get it at H&L Market.
- 3lb chicken wings, split at the drumette and tips trimmed off
- 1/2 C fish sauce
- 1/2 C granulated sugar
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 4C to 6C vegetable oil, approximately
- 1C cornstarch
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 1 T chopped cilantro
- 1 T chopped mint
- Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.
- Put the prepared chicken wings into a 1 gallon zip-top bag.
- Pour the marinade over the wings and refrigerate for at least three hours, turning occasionally. They can be left overnight, just be sure to put the bag into a bowl or baking dish in case it leaks.
- Remove the wings from the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking them.
- Drain the marinade from the wings and reserve the marinade. It will be reduced to make the sauce.
- Place the wings on a layer of paper towels to dry.
- Pour oil into a large pot to a depth of approximately two inches and bring to 350F (177C) over medium-high heat.
- While waiting for the oil to heat, put the marinade in a pot and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Skim off the protein raft that forms on the top. Reduce to a syrup consistency, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pat the wings dry with paper towels and dredge in cornstarch. Making sure they are covered thoroughly but shake off any excess cornstarch. Work in batches of four to six pieces, if you dredge too many and they sit for too long the cornstarch will get gummy and they won't be crispy.
- Fry the wings in batches of four to six pieces until crispy and chicken is done, about 8 to 10 minutes. Monitor the temperature of the oil because it will drop when you add the wings. You can turn up the heat to help the oil return to temperature more quickly, just keep an eye on it. You don't want it to go above 360F (182C).
- Remove the wings from the oil onto a cooling rack or a platter lined with paper towels.
- When finished frying the wings, heat 2T vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the minced garlic and fry, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden brown. Remove the garlic from the pan and allow the garlic to cool.
- When the wings have cooled enough to handle, put them in a bowl and drizzle with half the syrup. Toss to coat, then cover with remainder of syrup and toss again.
- Transfer wings to serving bowl or platter and top with fried garlic, chopped cilantro an chopped mint.
I planned to take a picture but by the time I made it to the table they were gone!