It is always either a pleasure or a horror to go through old photos on Facebook. Also, one of the best ways to avoid the mountain of work awaiting to consume you.
I stumbled across a particularly random-not-so-random one yesterday — the beauty above is of one of our classrooms back in the Department of Built Environment in the University of Nottingham. I think it was one of those droopy Autumn afternoons when the room quickly cleared after an especially long lecture, and I found a quick second to capture the light outside.
I suddenly realize that I don’t attend lectures as much anymore. I only give them now. To students and subordinates at colleges and construction sites.
I may finally be a grown-up.
Winters in Nottingham are not harsh, but bone-chilling. It’s wet and damp at times, and slippery. But altogether enjoyable if you like a spot of snow, red winter coats and woks of mulled wine with housemates. Yes, woks. Our grad-student frugality didn’t allow for too many deep-bottomed pots or pans.
I wish I had spent more than just two winters in the city. She doesn’t have the jazz and glamour of London, or the cheery disposition of Swansea or the ancient-ness of Edinburgh. But Nottingham was home, at a time when I learnt from my Italian housemate how al dente pasta should actually be. Or exactly where to find perfectly sauced doner kebabs at one in the morning.
Those were also the days of 10-quid chicken from Nando’s, gluggy, MSG-laden Chinese home-delivery from Wong’s and a lot of Train. Now that I think of Wong’s, I faintly recall the Sweet N Sour Chicken having an unholy orange color. I also recall their sticky chicken wings.
Sticky wings by themselves are nothing remarkable to write home about. I haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t have a favorite version. My cousin Arpi, makes them with bourbon BBQ sauce that’ll surely blow your mind. There’s a local eatery in my folks’ neighbourhood that makes an Indian variety with loads of thinly sliced capsicum and caramelized onions. Spicy they are. We make sure we have a pitcher of cold milk standing by.
For years I’ve roasted chicken wings slathered in store-bought bottled sauce. Now technically, technically, that can still be labelled as ‘cooking’. However, if we’re being grown-ups, then a proper sticky-sauce recipe needs to be called upon.
The one below is one of those throw-things-together-at-the-last-minute-based-on-the-flavors-you-love. The best part is how easy it is to remember the recipe. It uses equal parts of all ingredients. For a kilo or kilo-and-half of wings, 3 tablespoons of each does absolutely fine. Soy sauce, honey, rice wine, Hoisin sauce, hot sauce, sesame seeds.
Its a 3-spoon wonder. What could possibly go wrong?
3-Spoon Chicken Wings
Make a little extra marinade if you want (more than the quantities mentioned below) and you can brush them onto the wings mid-way while they roast. I normally buy un-toasted sesame seeds and then toast them myself (and I completely forgot to photograph them above). You may or may not do that, really. The quantities below multiplies like a dream.
3 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons of hot sauce (use something you love. I love either Sriracha or Gochujang)
3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of oilve oil
3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce (try the better brands at Asian supermarkets)
1-1.5 kgs of chicken wings (skin on)
3 tablespoons of sesame seeds
In a bowl, combine everything except the wings and sesame seeds. Prep a baking tin with oil spray, or line it with foil or a baking sheet.
Wash and dry the wings with paper towels. Coat the wings with the marinade and leave for 20 minutes. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry non-sticky pan on low heat for 3-5 minutes, till it starts to smell nutty (it took me slightly less than 3 minutes). Don’t let them brown though!
Roast the wings for 30-40 minutes, or till the juices run clear. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds all over and serve with a side slaw.