Throughout 2023 I didn't relent on my overuse of miso that started the previous year—everything I was making with miso as a base tasted so great, I saw no reason to cease experimentation to find everything this super savory paste could work its magic on. Wings were kind of a no-brainer, but it took me awhile to get there. The wait was worth it though when I finally chowed down on these incredibly tasty honey-miso wings.
Miso is such a strong flavor that I knew it was going to stand out and do most of the heavy lifting in this recipe, so I didn't go crazy devising an overly complex rub since it could easily just get dominated by the miso in the end. I went simple with just white pepper and garlic powder in addition to the required salt and baking powder—the later is what helps give grilled and baked wings a textured skin that sauce clings to quite well.
After putting together the seasoning, I placed a few pounds of wings in a large bowl and patted them dry with paper towels before applying the rub. This starts the exterior drying process that isn't fully complete until the wings have rested in the fridge on a wire rack for around eight hours. The loss of exterior moisture is pretty crucial for grilled wings because it ensures the outside cooks fast, letting the chicken get nice and crispy like a good wing should be.
I focused most of my energy in this recipe on the sauce, wanting to get something well balanced, layered, and delicious. I started with melting butter in a sauce pan and sweating garlic and ginger in it until both where fragrant. I then began adding honey, miso, mirin, and rice vinegar until the sauce tasted like it was hitting the right sweet, savory, and tart notes. As I was tinkering, it wasn't coming together exactly how I was imagining, so grabbed a few more ingredients to try to get me to where I wanted to be, using brown sugar to amp up the sweetness with a light molasses flavor, soy sauce to add more salt to the savoriness, and sesame oil for a nutty undertone. After those additions, things were tasting pretty spot on and I just let the sauce simmer for a bit to thicken up before considering it done.
After the overnight stint in the fridge, the chicken has dried up nicely, with the slightly leathery appearance that I know will lead to well browned and crispy skins. I wasted no time in getting them cooking using a hot fire arranged in a two-zone fashion, with all the coals situated on one side of the charcoal grate, and then the wings placed on the cool side of the grilling grate before being covered.
45 minutes into the cook, the wings were looking perfectly browned and crisp. It's a great feeling when I start picking up wings that look like this with the tongs and feel how crackling crisp the skins are—even after all these years, it's sometimes hard to believe they were not fried.
Once I had all the wings transferred into a large bowl, I poured in the sauce and tossed to coat. I had taken the sauce out of the fridge a bit before the wings went on the grill so it would have time to lose its chill. This isn't totally necessary, but it does help the wings stay as hot as possible during the sauce application process.
After plating these up and snapping a few photos, I dug in and continued my current love affair with miso. The amount of savory depth that paste gave these wings was immediately intoxicating, while they had an upfront sweetness too that ensured they would be a crowd pleaser. While it was hard to pinpoint all the players that led to the depth of flavor in the final product, the ginger and garlic stood out, along with the sharp bite of white pepper here and there, lending welcomed pockets of contrast to the sweetness. I tend to latch onto an ingredient until I've overdone it, and I probably entered that territory with miso awhile back by now, but I have no plans on letting up on using it because each time I do, it just leaves me wanting more.
- Yield 4-6 servings
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 8 Hours
- Cook 45 Minutes
- Total 9 Hours
- For the Wings
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- For the Sauce
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 2 teaspoons fresh minced ginger
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup white miso
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- To make the wings: In a small bowl, mix together baking powder, white pepper, salt, and garlic powder. Place wings in a large bowl, pat dry with paper towels, and sprinkle in spice mixture. Toss until wings are liberally and evenly seasoned. Arrange wings in a single layer on wire rack set inside a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, leaving a little space between each wing. Place baking sheet with wings in refrigerator for 8 hours to overnight.
- To make the sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in honey, miso, mirin, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and sesame boil and bring to a simmer. Continue to cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. If making the sauce in advance, transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator until 1 hour before use.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place the wings skin side up over the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until skins are crisp and browned, about 45 minutes.
- Transfer wings to a large bowl. Add in sauce and toss to thoroughly coat wings. Transfer wings to a platter and serve immediately.