Now You Can Make Mumbo Wings at Home
Make the city's famous sauce at home
Barbecue or Buffalo may be the most common wing sauces elsewhere in the U.S., but in Washington, folks swear by mumbo, a sweet-and-sour sauce known for being as perfect a pair for fries as for fried rice. [Here’s a deep dive into its long, DC-centric history.] Despite being a long-time Washingtonian, however, Chef Zachary Ridenhour of Trummer’s on Main asserts he’d never actually heard of mumbo sauce before working as a sous-chef at Bluejacket.
“Someone made a batch of mumbo sauce for family meal,” he says. “After that, I would try it anytime I saw it on a menu.”
For his play on mumbo wings, he borrows a few techniques and flavors from Chinese cashew chicken, one of his top takeout staples. The wings themselves are first brined in a marinade redolent with garlic and umami-rich fish sauce before being coated in a combo of rice flour, cornstarch and baking powder.
“The baking powder helps pull out the moisture in the chicken skin allowing it to get crispier,” says Ridenhour. “The rice flour and cornstarch give a little bit of texture to the chicken allowing for better grill marks.”
The wings are first baked until cooked through and crispy, and only then are they grilled to get a lovely caramelized char. Finally, the wings are tossed in Ridenhour’s mumbo sauce, a combo of ketchup, sugar, paprika, rice wine vinegar and two kinds of hot sauce. With the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness and heat, they’re ready to enjoy.
Grilled Mumbo Wings
- 2 pounds chicken wings
For the wing brine
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups fish sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- 12 whole garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the mumbo sauce
- 2 cups ketchup
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
For the wing rub
- 2 cups rice flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- Crushed cashews, for serving
- To make the brine, bring all ingredients to a boil and cook until all sugar and salt has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add the wings to the brine, and refrigerate for four to eight hours.
- Pre-heat the grill to 425º F. Over medium-high heat, bring all mumbo sauce ingredients to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, and allow to cook for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching the bottom of the pot.
- Mix rice flour, cornstarch and baking powder together.
- Remove the wings from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Toss the brined and dried wings in wing rub.
- Place the wings on a sheet tray, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165º F.
- Char the wings on the pre-heated grill. In a large bowl, toss the charred wings in mumbo sauce.
- Garnish with crushed cashews and serve immediately.
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