BBQ Season pt. 1 – Pok Pok Chicken Wings


Summer is on everyone’s lips in Toronto right now. And for me, a big part of this exciting new season is the opportunity to barbecue. Not only is most meat* cooked over flame delicious, it also means less cleanup, and with adequate planning (i.e. making marinades in advance) makes weeknight meals a snap.

Over the past few years, Isabel has preached the virtues of BBQ chicken wings – a staple for her growing up. And I’ve got to say, I’m a convert. Not only are grilled chicken wings delicious, they’re essentially bomb-proof. Which means you have to work pretty hard at screwing them up for them not to turn out just right.

I’ve flavoured BBQ wings many ways, but my current favourite is a riff on Andy Ricker’s famous fish sauce wings that Isabel and I had at his Brooklyn restaurant last year.  I say a “riff on” because his are deep fried, and a fair bit more involved, but this simplified grilled version is equally delicious.

A note on technique: When I BBQ wings, I marinate the works for as long as time will allow in a Ziploc bag. When it comes time to grilling, I transfer them to a large bowl, reserving the remaining marinade. Once the wings start to pick up colour, I pull them off and toss them again in the marinade. I repeat this a few times until the meat is cooked. I find this process adds layers of browned flavour that vastly improves the end result. Obviously, a marinade that has touched raw chicken is inedible, so be sure to cook it through, after each swim.

*I say most meat because I’ll take a perfectly seared steak or burger our of a frying pan over charred on a BBQ any day of the week, regardless of season.



  • Chicken wings (1lb – 1.5lbs)
  • Fish sauce (1/4 cup)
  • Sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, diced


1. In a large bowl, dissolve equal parts sugar and fish sauce.

2. Finely dice garlic cloves, and add to the fishy-sweet marinade.

3. Add the chicken wings and let marinate for as long as time will allow (overnight would be great, but even a half hour is a decent start.

4. Take the wings to the grill. Reserve the leftover marinade. Cook over medium heat. As the skin starts to brown, flip the wings. You’ll do this several times over the course of the process, so don’t worry about being precious. Just be sure to not rip the skin. If they don’t pull away from the grill, they are not ready to be flipped.

5. After both sides are starting to take on colour, remove from the heat and toss with the reserved marinade. Return the wings to the grill. Repeat this process a few times until the wings are cooked. The result is a sticky-sweet-sour wing that punches well above its weight-class at any BBQ.

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