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 Spud.ca 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:
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:
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.