Grape Review: Pok Pok Wing-Thai Street Food
If you Google the top ten foodie cities in America, Portland OR is number two on the list. Number one being San Francisco and number three is New York. Way to go Portland!
Pok Pok is one of those restaurants that helped put Portland on the map of foodie cities. And definitely one to try if you are ever in the area. It is certainly not your typical Thai restaurant (no Phad Thai Noodles here!), this is strictly Thai street food (with a little Vietnamese in the mix).
As a matter of fact, their most famous signature dish is the Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings. So, that’s went I went for, bring on the wings! Pok Pok is one of those restaurants that started out as a food truck but now they currently have 5 locations in the Portland area.
I went to one of their newer locations, Pok Pok Wing. Well………because I wanted to try the wings. And the parking is much better at that location.
The first thing I noticed walking in is, that the place is super clean and the guy at the counter had a welcoming smile on his face. He immediately let me know that all of the menu items were in full pictures on the windows and to let him know if I had any questions. And he smiled nicely for the camera too!
I already knew that I wanted those wings that everyone keeps raving about, but how many? The wings come in a half order(3) and a full order(6) or you can order the wing special (3 wings, papaya salad and sticky rice). I went for the special, of course. Then I picked out a beverage from the cooler.
It was recommended that I try the Thai Basil Som Soda. This is their own unique soda made with drinking vinegar. It came in four very different flavors: Ginger, Grapefruit, Thai Basil or Tumeric. I have to say it was quite refreshing and the lightly sweet, citrusy taste infused with the Thai basil paired well with the spicy wings and papaya salad.
I took a seat at one of the tables by the window, sipped on my yummy soda and enjoyed the warm sun beaming in on me while I waited for my wings with great anticipation.
Finally! Actually it didn’t take long at all. I was just so excited to try them! Wow! those are some gorgeous looking wings!
Words to describe them: Glistening, sticky, sweet and salty, crispy, tender, juicy, spicy, garlicky, flavor bomb of yum! And the Green Papaya Salad, soooooo good!
The Green Papaya Salad is a cool refreshing accompaniment with a spicy kick. Spicy with a heat that hits right away but doesn’t linger around forever and still lets the other flavors of the salad shine too. The sticky rice and pickled carrots and daikon radish were yummy as well.
This is definitely a place you must check out when visiting Portland OR or if you live here and have not tried it yet (like me!).
Check out this article from Portland Monthly, it contains the recipe for these yummy wings as well as info on their amazing cookbook Pok Pok Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings
Or use the Printable recipe below:
Ike’s Fish-Sauce Wings
- 8 garlic cloves peeled
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup Vietnamese fish sauce Ricker recommends Phu Quoc or Three Crabs brand
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 2 lbs medium-size chicken wings about 12, split at the joint
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup tempura batter mix Ricker recommends Gogi brand
- 1/4 cup water
- Optional: 1–2 tsp naam phrik khao soi roasted chile paste, for “spicy wings”
(1) CHOP garlic finely, sprinkle salt, and chop together for about 15 more seconds.
(2) SCRAPE into a small bowl, add warm water, and let sit for a few minutes.
(3) POUR through a fine sieve set over a bowl, and use the back of a spoon to stir and smoosh garlic against the sieve, reserving leftover garlic.
(4) ADD fish sauce and sugar to bowl and stir until dissolved.
(5) PLACE chicken wings in a separate large bowl, add 1/2 cup of fish sauce mixture (reserve the rest in the refrigerator), and toss well.
(6) COVER and refrigerate wings for at least four hours, or overnight, tossing every hour or so.
(1) HEAT 3/4-inch of vegetable oil in a small pan over high heat and add reserved garlic.
(2) REDUCE heat to medium-low, fry until garlic is lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes, and transfer to paper towels to drain (set aside until final cooking stage).
(3) TRANSFER wings from refrigerator to a colander in the sink and let drain for 15 minutes.
(4) STIR together rice flour and tempura mix in a large bowl and toss wings until coated well.
(5) POUR enough oil into a wok or dutch oven to completely submerge the wings, about 2 inches, and bring oil to 325 degrees (measure with a candy thermometer).
(6) FRY wings in two batches, gently knocking them against the bowl before adding to the oil.
(7) COOK each batch until evenly golden brown, about 10–12 minutes, prodding every few minutes.
(8) TRANSFER wings to paper towels to drain.
(1) ADD 1/4 cup water to the reserved fish sauce mixture.
(2) COMBINE 1/4 cup of the water–fish sauce mixture and half the chile paste (if you are using it), bring to a full boil in a nonstick wok, and reduce for about 45 seconds.
(3) ADD half the wings and toss every 15 seconds, until a caramelized glaze coats the wings, about 1 minute.
(4) ADD 1 tbsp of the fried garlic, toss well, and cook about 30 seconds longer.
(5) RINSE and wipe out wok, and repeat with the next batch of wings.
(6) SERVE wings with pickled vegetables, cucumber spears, and herb sprigs.
Check out the books below for more recipes from Pok Pok. Just click on the book to get your own. Enjoy!