Born from Aichi’s Food Culture
Aichi Prefecture is famous in Japan for Nagoya-meshi, a type of food with very intense flavors, and sauces that balance sweet and salty. It is thought that Aichi’s use of red miso led to a preference for this distinctive flavor. Red miso is made by fermenting soybeans over a long period of time. It is not only very nutritious, but the powerful, umami flavor makes it a favorite condiment in Aichi, where it is used in many dishes, from udon soup to tonkatsu (pork cutlet) sauce.
Thanks to red miso, the people of Aichi began creating more dishes with similarly strong, salty-sweet flavors, using other ingredients to make mouth-watering dishes. And so Nagoya-meshi was created. Fried chicken wings might not use red miso, but the intensely moreish flavors make them one of the most recognizable and popular Nagoya-meshi dishes in Japan.
Fried Chicken Wings Take Off
Nowadays, fried chicken wings are one of the most popular Nagoya-meshi dishes and are eaten by people all over Japan, but until about 50 years ago, chicken wings were only thought good enough for making stock.
This changed in around 1965 when a chef ran out of ordinary chicken, and found himself looking for something else to serve his customers. He decided to fry up the chicken wings that had only been used for making stock. He coated them with the sweet and salty sauce popular at the restaurant and served them up. The light and crispy texture was a hit, and word soon spread about this new dish. The popularity of chicken wings took off, with more restaurants serving them deep-fried, and it eventually became an Aichi specialty.
The sauce used to coat the wings is usually made with soy sauce as a base, but each restaurant has their own way of making it. From deciding what soy sauce to use, to choosing whether or not to sprinkle on sesame seeds, each step of the process is a chance to add an original twist to the flavor. Some restaurants even like to add a big helping of pepper to give a spicy bite to the dish.
Crispy Skin and Umami Flavors
Chicken wings cooked in Aichi are double-fried. This gives them a super crispy skin while keeping the meat soft and juicy.
Aichi’s fried chicken wings might seem tricky to eat at first, but once you try, you’ll find it’s quite easy. You can hold both ends of the wing with your fingers, and pull to separate the meat from the bone, or you could simply put the whole thing in your mouth and then pull the bone out clean. As long as you enjoy them, you can eat them any way you choose.
But when you do, just remember: like all Nagoya-meshi, this is a dish that is so delicious, once you start, you’ll find it almost impossible to stop!