d o c t o r a n d m a m a

Linda Shiue

Linda Shiue
San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
December 31
I am a physician and spend my free time with my husband and kids, reading everything in sight, eating, traveling, and cooking meals inspired by my travels. These days I'm spending more time at my food blog, spiceboxtravels.com. Please visit me there and follow me on Twitter @spiceboxtravels. Disclaimer: Health information presented here is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. © 2010-12 Linda Shiue. All Rights Reserved.

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MARCH 26, 2010 11:59AM

Sesame-Ginger Chicken Wings and a Lesson in Frugality

Rate: 12 Flag

wings by Linda Shiue 

The memories of early childhood are often muddled together so much, it's hard to separate reality from fiction, or someone else's story.  For example, do I really remember Leslie putting a hot baked potato in my jumper's front pocket when I was 3, or was it a fable my mother told me? Did that 5 year old girl across the street, the one whose name I have blocked out, really give me a random leaf to chew on, after she had given my brother, whom she liked, a tender mint leaf? Vague and yet simultaneously vivid, these childhood memories.  So I can't necessarily attest to the accuracy of the story I am about to share, but it is at least partially true.

Chicken wings remind me of sports, as I guess they're supposed to.  But the chicken wings I remember have nothing to do with Buffalo, NY, nor blue cheese dressing.  They're my mother's sesame-ginger chicken wings.

She would make them while my father would watch basketball for what seemed the entire day on the TV downstairs.  I think it was mainly college basketball.  I have no idea how he became such a fan.  It's such an All-American pastime, I really don't know how my father, who came as an organic chemistry graduate student from Taiwan in the 60s, could have gotten so hooked.  But he did, and I think he still watches when he gets a chance.  While my mother would busy herself in the kitchen upstairs, and the aroma of her heavenly sesame-ginger chicken wings would gradually fill the entire house, there was my dad on the couch downstairs, feet propped up on the coffee table.  That image, I am sure, is true.  He would have really All-American snacks while watching the game: a 6-pack of Budweiser, a bag of Lay's potato chips, before they were baked into healthier submission, and a container of Breakstone's sour cream clam dip.  He is a compact man, and I do not know how he managed to consume all of that himself, but I think he pretty much finished all of the above during the course of a Saturday afternoon game.   Although if you asked him, he would say, "Linda always exaggerates."

Afterwards, it would be time for dinner, and we'd have my mother's glistening chicken wings with steamed white rice and some stir fried Chinese greens on the side.   The flavor of the rich sauce soaked into the rice was incredible. 

When not lazing and snacking in front of the game, my father would spend most of his time teaching me and my brother life lessons.  His most often repeated lesson was on frugality.  Nothing could go to waste-- he would routinely inspect my trash can and remove items which I was ready to discard, but he felt still had some life left.  

I thought I had come a long way.  Living in a city with a goal of "zero waste," I have become quite skilled and dogmatic about recycling and composting-- we produce very little trash.  So when I was done with the scallions I was using in a dish, I automatically began to put the cut off roots into my composting pail.

scallions by Linda Shiue 

True to form, my father said, "You waste too much."  Seeing as I was an inadequate role model for his version of "zero waste," my dad used the scallion roots as an opportunity to teach my daughters how to be less wasteful than their mother, and also how to grow their own food.  They were excited to plant the roots in the mini potted herb garden just outside our front door.  Magically, and within days, we had more scallions!

 scallions by Linda Shiue

In tribute to those chicken wings my mother would make on my father's game days, and to the goal of "zero waste", I've re-created a version of her wings, garnished with the scallions my father, and my daughters, resurrected from what would have become compost.  

*     *     *

 Sesame-Ginger Chicken Wings

 Serves 4


2 lbs  chicken wings

1/4 cup Asian sesame oil (Kadoya brand is my one and only)

1/8 cup soy sauce

4 quarter sized slices of fresh, peeled ginger

1/3 tsp white pepper powder

1 tsp. sugar 

1 1/4 cups water 

1 tablespoon canola oil 

green tops of 5 scallions, julienned 

Accompaniments: steamed rice, stir-fried greens 


1. Combine sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, white pepper and sugar in a mixing bowl.

2.  Add chicken wings to the sauce and marinate for 30 minutes.

3.  Heat canola oil in a skillet over medium heat.

4.  With tongs, remove wings from marinade and place into heated pan.  Allow to brown for a few minutes on each side.

5.When wings are browned, add water and the marinade, bring to a simmer, and then lower heat and cover skillet.

6.  Stir occasionally so that the chicken skin remains intact.

7.  When half of the sauce has reduced, turn off heat, add scallions and allow them to wilt.

8. Serve hot, over steamed white rice, with a side of stir-fried greens.   Drizzle sauce over wings and rice.

Also great cold for a picnic. 



© 2010 Linda Shiue 

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Yummy! Another fine chapter for your memoir cookbook...
Linda, this is exactly the recipe that I have, except for one ingredient. And that is some cooking wine, when you add the water. It is a delicious recipe!
Linda, the wonderful thing about your recipes is that we get your incredible writing along with it. I might even be brave enough to try this._r
Heavenly, for sure! I'm hungry now... And I Love the magical scallions! Thanks to your Dad -- and you!
I learn so much when I read your stories. Love love love the story about your dad (we share a love of clam dip!); will try the bonus scallion tip (DD#1 is my reduce/reuse/recycle girl); and an excellent wing recipe to boot. Another winner!
I did not know this about scallions...how cool! So they grow a whole new edible bottom? You could keep eating the same dozen scallions forever.

The recipe sounds delicious and easy enough for the challenged cook to make, and tofu could substitute for the chicken wings, and be totally yummy.
What a wonderful idea! (not just the new chicken wing recipe) I'm no gardener, but maybe I will make a tiny tiny garden for scallions.
Yummy wings and great idea for the scallions...I'm going to try both of 'em!
The wings sound delicious, the scallions are divine.
what?? You can just stick scallion roots in soil and they grow? I always think things have to be so complicated..this is a simpletip i will try imediately as soon as it warms up a bit.great little story.looks like killer recipe............i think Ill leave out the sugar and use a little splenda..Im having family over this weekend and Im making your wings!!Thank you.Loved the post.
caroline marie: thank you!
catherine: this recipe plus Chinese rice wine is one that is usually made with a whole chicken, not just the wings, for some reason; that is really good, too.
Joan: hi there, and thanks. I appreciate the SKC for a theme to work from. Hope you try and like this.
Julie Shanti, Lucy, dianaani, McKenzie, a blonde, food addict: thanks for stopping by. The scallions are really magically easy to grow, I think inifinitely. You just cut off all the green part and stick the root/white stem in soil. I don't know why it is so easy. We also planted garlic that had sprouted chives already, and so we have garlic chives, too. Same method.
green heron: tofu sounds like a great substitution-- especially if it were the fried kind, would absorb the sauce nicely. Thanks for the idea!
I think I could hang out with your dad. I keep a "never-ending" stock pot on a back burner where the scallion roots have usually gone, but with growing season starting I'll give his idea a try. I did that with some pineapple tops a few years back. They took root and are still growing!

The wings sound delicious, and much easier than Buffalo style. I always keep fresh ginger around, sometimes just cut off a slice to chew. Checking the pantry, I see I'm out of sesame oil - but I'll be sure to buy Kadoya next time I'm at the market.
Sounds like a delicious recipe. Excellent post.
What a great story, Linda! And I love the resurrected scallions! Must show that to my kids. I just submitted a sesame chicken story as well, but I trust your recipe much more than my husband's! Just don't tell him I said that.
Paul, Doc, and Mamie: thanks!
Linda, I love your memories about your father and his lessons in frugality. Mine was like yours in some ways as he grew up in poverty.
The recipe looks delicious, I've copied and saved it - with your name credited. I'll always think of you when I make it. Thanks for sharing.
Great story. Planting scallion roots outside your front door and having them grow within days is amazing. I'm jealous of your CA climate :) What a fun project for kids! great recipe too.
"Linda always exaggerates."
I can picture your daddy saying this, Linda. :-). This is a great story to go along with your yummy recipe. Thank you! R.
Hi Fusun, thank you. I am glad I was taught to be frugal-- a good lesson for anyone, anywhere.
Jenna: thank you. I am so lucky for the California climate, really like magic sometimes.
Hi Patty: thanks for stopping by and commenting.
So Julie and Julia! I loved that movie, love your blog, and ran home, after watching that movie, and started my first blog