Baked Garlic Rhubarb Wings with Sweet & Sour Sauce

Garlic + Rhubarb + Chicken Wings? What could possibly be wrong with that? NOTHING, I tell you! This absolutely delicious baked chicken wings flavor combination is a winner. I’m a very picky wing eater and this definitely–easily–tops all the other chicken wings I’ve made. There can only be one reason for this experiment: I had way too many rhubarb stalks stocked up on a night of craving for Hawaiian wings. An unlikely success to me at the time, but here it is, in all its finger-licking glory. Don’t say No before you even try it! :-)


Up until a week ago, I was a Rhubarb Virgin: the kind who’s never cooked with rhubarb, let alone taste it.

Now that the collective pause, dropped jaw, raised eyebrow, and “No way!” has been released into the ether…yes, it’s very well true and possible. I didn’t grow up here or anywhere near North America and only celebrated my 10th year in the pacific northwest and the mere mention of rhubarb 5 years ago won’t even incite any mental image. Is it a root? A fruit? You could smack me with a stalk and I wouldn’t recognize my first meeting with a rhubarb.

So I finally decided to try it.

I ordered a couple of stalks from with my fresh harvest box when I tried their service, then I got four more at Granville Island after seeing how incredibly cheap they were. For a few days I was well-stocked with rhubarb with no idea what to do with them. I didn’t even know what they tasted like. I read they were sour. Having no reference of the taste, I cut up a slice and tasted it raw. Indeed. Who needs sour candy?

Here were the few things I knew about rhubarb before experimenting with them:

  • eye-squinting sour when raw.
  • apparently good made as a compote
  • popularly combined with strawberries for pie (although it was unimaginable to me at the time)

After initially cooking it in simple syrup, I’ve found them incredibly good to use as a substitute for pineapple in salads, and they easily become mushy when cooked even further. I strained it out to use in my tuna-beet-rhubarb salad and saved the rosy pink for later use, I was sure something will come out of it!

That rhubarb syrup and more rhubarb made it into this chicken wing experiment and I must say that it yielded the best results out of all my exploits with this once-foreign-to-me sour stem. I was hankering for a good “treat” after yoga last night and thought of Hawaiian-inspired (i.e. with pineapple) chicken wings, but I didn’t have pineapple, so I used rhubarb instead. And here it is:

Garlic Rhubarb Chicken Wings

It’s quite possibly the tastiest and most delicious wings I’ve ever made! I’m stunned at the results, to be honest with you.

Thank you rhubarb! Thank you adventurous self! Don’t you just love it when you risk making something completely new and it ends up being one of your best dishes? :-) I was a very tired but very happy and well-fed yoga bum.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Garlic Rhubarb Wings with Sweet & Sour SauceDownload the PDF recipe

Ingredients for the Wings

•    1.8 lbs chicken wings
•    2 tbsp smashed and finely chopped garlic
•    1/3 cup ketchup
•    1 tsp hot sauce (tweak to your taste)
•    2 tbsp soy sauce
•    1 tbsp coconut oil (you can substitute with another oil of your choice)
•    3 tbsp finely chopped rhubarb
•    3 tbsp rhubarb syrup (from cooking rhubarb in simple syrup, or just use 1 tbsp brown sugar, honey, or agave nectar)
•    ¼ tsp salt
•    ½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Ingredients for the Sauce
•    2 tbsp brown sugar
•    2 tbsp water
•    ½ tbsp lemon juice
•    3 ½ tbsp chopped rhubarb
•    4 tsp soy sauce
•    1 tbsp honey
•    1 tbsp ketchup
•    1/8 tsp salt
•    1/8 tsp pepper
•    3 tsp whole milk
•    1 tsp cornstarch mixed in 3 tsp water

Preparation for the Wings

1.    In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients except for the wings. Taste and add more salt, pepper and hot sauce as you wish until you are satisfied with it.
2.    Toss the chicken wings in the big bowl, cover and let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes as you pre-heat the oven to 425°F with the tray on the upper third portion.
3.    Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleaning later on.
4.    Once your oven is preheated, place the chicken wings on the lined cookie sheet, but keep the remaining mixture in the bowl. Bake for 20 minutes. Make the sauce.
5.    Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and turn the wings over using a pair of tongs. Using a spoon or a brush, put on the remaining mixture on the wings. Bake for another 13 to 18 minutes depending on how ‘dry’ you want the wings to be. 13 minutes is best if you want a lot more juicy meat to eat with rice, for example. 18 minutes would make it really nice and brown.
6.    Take out of the oven, turn the wings to prevent the top from drying up, and let it cool for 5 minutes before transferring on your serving plate. Enjoy!

Preparation for the Sauce

1.    In small saucepan, heat water and sugar in low-med heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. There’s no need to stir.
2.    Add lemon juice and chopped rhubarb and cook until rhubarb softens. With a heat-safe spatula, press the rhubarb against the bottom of the pan until you get a paste.
3.    Add the soy sauce, ketchup, honey, milk, salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a five minutes and turn off the heat. Stirring the cornstarch-water mixture to make sure the cornstarch hasn’t settled at the bottom of your small bowl, pour to the hot sauce and stir. You can keep it on the stove (turned off) while the wings are cooking.
4.    Serve with the wings.

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  • June 5, 2009 9:31 pm

    I have some rhubarb in my garden and can’t wait to try your recipe. Looks delicious.

    BeckyRoses last blog post..Haven, St. George UT

    • joy
      June 5, 2009 9:42 pm

      Now that I’ve gotten to know rhubarb more, I’m jealous of all of you who have rhubarb in your gardens! :-) Definitely give it a try and let me know how it goes. :)

  • June 5, 2009 9:43 pm

    Oh yeah! Wow, they look fantastic. I just got some rhubarb and have another plan for it tomorrow, but next time I get some I should try this. I love the idea of using rhubarb in a savory recipe.

    Esis last blog post..Free-form Onion Tart

    • joy
      June 8, 2009 5:20 pm

      Thanks hun! Rhubarb in a savory recipe is a real winner. I’ve used it on 4 different occasions now.

  • Wendy R
    June 6, 2009 12:01 am

    You are totally blowing my mind. It looks ***amazing***!!!

    • joy
      June 8, 2009 5:21 pm

      Thanks Wendy! :)

  • June 6, 2009 2:40 am

    Stem stem! :) Anyway, thank heavens for our adventurous selves right? I’ve only ever had it in a jam that was kindly gifted to me by a fellow blogger, but if I see raw stalks I’ll definitely remember this recipe, yum! :)

    Manggys last blog post..Sticky Toffee Pudding

    • joy
      June 8, 2009 5:22 pm

      Really? They sell it here as stalks. I’ve never had rhubarb jam…is it like pineapple jam? It really reminds me of pineapple when I first cooked it in simple syrup.

  • June 6, 2009 5:38 am

    These look so tasty. I gotta get some rhubarb. I’ve only used itonce in a crumble (a beloved recipe I lost)but remember I liked working with it. Stumbled!

    megans last blog post..A Rainbow Cake: And Now You Know The Rest Of The Story!

    • joy
      June 8, 2009 5:24 pm

      Thanks for your comment and stumble dearie. :) If it wasn’t for fellow Twitterers, I might not have tried rhubarb at all!

  • June 6, 2009 12:35 pm

    Tuna, beet & rhubarb salad? I am curious… I grew up with rhubarb in the garden, but have never had it in a savory dish – yet!
    Happy experimenting :)

    • joy
      June 8, 2009 5:26 pm

      Yes! :) You definitely have to try it in a savory dish. Interestingly, I’ve never had it in a sweet dish. :p I will make the salad again sometime this week and post the recipe. :)

  • June 7, 2009 10:17 am

    This sounds amazing! Such wonderful combination of flavours!

    pigpigscorners last blog post..Restaurant Review – Barrafina, London

  • June 9, 2009 7:54 pm

    Ok, still in shock that you were a rhubarb virgin. However, glad to see you dove in and created such a great looking savory dish from it. Impressive :-)

    Allens last blog post..Braided Almond Brioche Bread

  • June 10, 2009 8:56 am

    I am still a rhubarb virgin! LOL I know, how can I? But these wings look amazing! I must try them!

  • June 10, 2009 8:25 pm

    I have beautiful fresh rhubarb sitting in my fridge, that I just couldn’t make a decision on. I just didn’t want to do pie, but, now I know what to try! Can’t wait! Thanks for the great idea & recipe!

  • June 14, 2009 10:13 pm

    I also made a simple rhubarb dessert soup if you’re looking for more ideas :)

    Judes last blog post..Vanilla-Rhubarb Soup with Strawberries

  • July 1, 2009 12:30 pm

    Good for you for being adventurous! We grow rhubarb so I’m always looking for new recipes and it just so happens I am thawing chicken wings right now. How very convenient ;) I’m jealous of your Spud order. I used to get Spud all of the time but since moving to the Fraser Valley, they don’t deliver here. *sigh* By the way, my husband eats raw rhubarb straight from the garden. I wouldn’t recommend being that adventurous!
    .-= Madeline´s last blog ..Shrimp Alfredo =-.

  • July 15, 2009 5:59 pm

    Oh my gosh, that’s genius! They look incredible!
    .-= Elle´s last blog ..Julia Child, Three Books, and a Whisk =-.

    • joy
      July 15, 2009 7:44 pm

      Thanks, Elle! It really tastes good, even I was surprised the first time I made it. Hehe.

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