Spicy Sweet-and-Sour Lime Pickle Chicken Wings

Serves 4

Inspired by Chef Quealy Watson’s https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/crushed-cucumbers-with-lime-pickle-and-coconut

I recently discovered the South-East Asian phenomenon that is lime pickle. Talk about a flavor bomb—it’s spicy, sour, and salty all at once, a kind of aggressive assault on the palate from all directions. Used sparingly, it’s a versatile condiment that you can put on just about anything savory. I thought it would be a really interesting flavor to incorporate into a sweet and sour sauce for grilled chicken wings, and with some tweaking, my fiancé and I created a recipe that gave us stellar results. The spiciness of the sambal oelek and lime pickle is tempered by the sweetness of the honey, and the sauce has zing both from the spices and the lime. Topped with scallions and fried garlic, they’re little pieces of tangy heaven.


2 lbs chicken wings, each divided into two parts (the drumettes, and the flats and tips)

2 TBSP soy sauce

2 TBSP fish sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

2 TBSP rice vinegar

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

¼ cup prepared lime pickle, chopped into a paste

2 TBSP sambal oelek

1 ½ tsp rice vinegar

1 ½ TBSP mirin

2 TBSP honey, or to taste

¼ tsp cumin

Scallions, chopped, to top

Fried garlic, to top

MSG, to top (optional)


Place the chicken wings in a large resealable plastic bag along with the soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.

Preheat the grill to medium heat. Pat the wings dry and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste (use a light hand on the salt, as the wings will already have a degree of salt from the marinade). Oil the grill grates with vegetable oil, then add the wings and cook, turning occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and the skin is nicely crisped, around 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a large bowl, mix together the lime pickle, sambal oelek, rice vinegar, mirin, honey, and cumin. Once the wings are off the grill, toss them in the sauce. Serve hot, topped with the chopped scallions, fried garlic, and a sprinkle of MSG.

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