In 2011, I was a 24-year-old Capitol Hill staffer living in Washington, D.C. Back then, D.C. hummed with a vibrancy and idealism that felt both quixotic and ambitious. It was due in large part to then-President Barack Obama, who was still in his first term in office. This new burst of energy could be felt around town, inspiring everything from neighborhood revitalization (or gentrification) and new restaurant and bar concepts. I couldn’t help but feel inspired as well.
For my birthday that year, my girlfriends got together and bought me a seat in a cooking class hosted by Erik Bruner-Yang, an up-and-coming chef who planned to open a new restaurant called Toki Underground later that year. During the class, we focused on the art of forming and frying delicate pork gyoza. Chef Bruner-Yang also taught us how to make the thick, meaty tonkotsu ramen broth he would offer at his restaurant.
That ramen is, to this day, the best I’ve ever had. Made with an opaque and unapologetically porky broth, it was finished with a hearty dusting of togarashi, a Japanese seasoning composed of an assortment of dried chiles, sesame seeds, ginger, and seaweed. The togarashi added an element of flavor I hadn’t come across before, with a heat that was deep without being overpowering or too spicy.
I carried my love of togarashi with me when I left D.C. for Atlanta, where I exchanged a career in politics for one in food. In the almost five years that I’ve called this city home, I’ve learned how obsessed ATLians are with chicken wings. Whether they’re made with lemon pepper, spicy barbecue, or sweet teriyaki — and in some cases a combination of two or more flavors — they make up a massive part of the culture in the Peach City. Few things taste better than the combination of sweet and savory, and no dish accomplishes that better than glazed fried chicken wings. And so, inspired by my time in D.C. and my current hometown, I created this recipe for togarashi-hot honey wings.
Here, the crunchy, savory fried chicken is coated with gooey honey, and togarashi is used to finish it, just like it was in that bowl of ramen. Sprinkled over the chicken, it clings to the sticky crust and adds a piquant flavor that keeps me coming back for wing after wing. A great party dish all year round, it’s sure to be a hit at any Super Bowl gathering.
Togarashi-Hot Honey Fried Chicken Wings Recipe
Makes 8-12 wings
2-3 quarts peanut oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
2 ½-3 pounds chicken wings (or about 8-12 pieces)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup Red Clay Hot Honey
1 tablespoon togarashi
Optional Maldon salt, for garnish
Step 1: Pour the peanut oil in a large cast-iron skillet (or a 3-quart chicken fryer or Dutch Oven) and heat over medium heat until the oil is hot (350-375 degrees), for about 15 minutes.
Step 2: Combine the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Pat dry the chicken wings, place them in a large bowl, and season with the spice mixture. Toss the chicken until seasoned throughout.
Step 3: Pour the flour in a large plastic bag and add the chicken wings. Shake the bag to dredge the wings. You can work in batches to ensure even coating.
Step 4: Shake off the excess flour and add the chicken wings to the oil. Fry until golden brown, about 10 minutes. A good indicator that they’re ready is when they float in the oil. Be sure not to crowd the wings or they won’t cook correctly.
Step 5: Once the wings are cooked, place them on a paper towel-lined sheet pan to blot out the excess oil.
Step 6: In another large bowl, add the hot honey and ¼ cup of slightly cooled oil from frying the chicken. Still until well combined.
Step 7: Working in batches, toss the wings in the hot honey and oil mixture, making sure that each piece is well coated.
Step 8: Serve the wings on a large plate and sprinkle with togarashi. If more salt is desired, top them with a bit of flaky Maldon salt.
Ryan Shepard is an Atlanta-based food and spirits writer. She loves Mexican food, bourbon and New Orleans.
Louiie Victa is a chef, recipe developer, food photographer, and stylist living in Las Vegas.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa