Monday, January 26, 2015

Citrus Pistachios and Vietnamese Spicy Wings Heat Up Super Bowl Sunday Snacks

What are you going to serve on Super Bowl Sunday? Chips and dips, frozen pizza and grocery store salads. No way! Special events deserve special food. Snacks that reach out and grab you, that make you stop watching TV and say, "That is amazing!"

Here are two of my favorite snacks. One, the pistachios, I figured out last week. The other, the Vietnamese-style wings are a long time favorite. What they have in common is an addictive salty-sweet heat.

Have a great game!

Citrus Pistachios

My only debate about this snack is whether to use pistachios in the shell or shelled. Personally I like the fun of cracking open the shells. If you want easy-snacking, use the shelled pistachios. 
I prefer to use raw pistachios. If the only pistachios available are already roasted, check to see if they are also salted. In which case, do not salt the nuts.

Serves 10-12


16 ounces pistachios (in the shell or shelled)
1 cup citrus peel (oranges, grapefruit or tangerines), fresh, washed, dried
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (do not use salt if the pistachios are already salted)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon 
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
Pinch cayenne 

Using a sharp chefs knife, cut the peels off the citrus of your choice. I like a mix of flavors, so I use equal amounts of grapefruit, orange and tangerine peels. Once you have removed the peels, you can cut the citrus into segments and make a delicious fruit salad by adding cut up apples and pomegranate seeds. 
Lay the peels out on a cutting board and select portions of the peel that are unblemished. Use a sharp knife to carefully remove most of the pith from the back of the peel. Leave a little white layer for flavor. Cut the peels into thin ribbons approximately 1/8 inch thin.

Heat a nonstick pan on a medium flame. Add the citrus peel, spices, sea salt and sugar. Toss frequently. The goal is to flavor and dehydrate the peels.

When the citrus peels are lightly browned and crisp, remove from the pan. Using the same pan, heat the pistachios and toss until lightly browned.

In a bowl mix together the citrus peels and pistachios. 

Serve warm in a bowl.

Spicy Sweet Ginger-Garlic Chicken Wings

Make the wings a day or two ahead. Reheat the wings just before half-time and feast.

Serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as an appetizer

2 pounds chicken wings, washed, disjointed, wing tips discarded or reserved and used to make stock
½ cup white sugar
½ cup warm water
¼ cup fish sauce--preferably a light caramel colored brand
¼ cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 cloves garlic minced
1 dried Chinese Szechuan pepper, stem removed, seeds and skin minced
3 tablespoons or 3” ginger, peeled, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar, to taste


Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large non-reactive bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Add other ingredients, stir to mix well. Place chicken in marinade. transfer to a sealable plastic bag and refrigerate one hour or, preferably, overnight.

When ready to cook, separate wings from the marinade. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Add brown sugar. Stir to dissolve. Over a low flame, reduce by half. Taste and adjust for more sweetness if desired by adding more brown sugar.

Line a large baking sheet with a sheet of aluminum foil for easy clean up. 

Place in oven. Turn every ten minutes. Cook until tender, about thirty minutes.

Serve on a plate of Asian noodles, steamed rice or shredded lettuce. Just before serving, pour the heated marinade over the top of the wings.

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