Star Anise Wings



Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Direct Grilling or Rotisserie Makes


    Chicken Wings

Appears in

The Barbecue Bible

By Steven Raichlen

Published 1998

  • About

Lee Chun Hock is a jocular grill master who plies his trade in northern Malaysia. I met him on Gurney Road on Penang Island, where he runs a barbecue stall called Ipoh Famous Roasted Chicken Wings. (Ipoh is the name of his boss.) Hock’s “pit” is a gleaming stainless rotisserie, where spring chickens are roasted snap crackle poppingly crisp over a charcoal fire. He offered me the following recipe on the condition that I give him a winning lottery number. I told him my age, birthday, and street address. I hope he won!

The powerfully flavorful marinade has everything you could wish for: soy sauce for saltiness, sugar and ketjap manis for sweetness, and star anise and cinnamon sticks for spice. The basting of sesame oil gives the wings a nutty crispness.


  • 12 whole chicken wings (2½ to 3 pounds)
  • cup soy sauce
  • cup sweet soy sauce (ketjap manis), or teaspoons each regular soy sauce and molasses
  • cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Accent (MSG; optional)
  • 5 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches)
  • 2 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil, for basting

Special Equipment

Rotisserie (optional)


Advance Preparation

  • to 24 hours for marinating the chicken wings

  1. Rinse the chicken wings under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Make two or three deep slashes, to the bone, in the meaty part of each wing. Set the wings aside while you prepare the marinade.
  2. Combine the soy sauces, rice wine, sugar, pepper, and Accent (if using) in a large nonreactive bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the star anise and cinnamon, then add the wings and turn to coat thoroughly with the marinade. Cover the wings and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for at least 8 and as long as 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. If grilling directly on the grate, set up the grill and preheat to medium-high.

    If using a rotisserie, set up the grill for spit roasting following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat it to high. Place a large drip pan in the center of the grill directly under the spit.

  4. When ready to cook, remove the wings from the marinade and discard the marinade.

    If grilling directly on the grate, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the wings on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until the thicker wing sections are no longer pink near the bone, 12 to 16 minutes in all. Reduce the heat if the wings start to burn.

    If using a rotisserie, thread each wing onto the spit through the excess skin found at the joint. Attach the spit to the rotisserie mechanism and turn on the motor. Spit roast the wings until the thicker wing sections are no longer pink near the bone, 20 to 30 minutes.

  5. Brush the wings once or twice with sesame oil as they cook. Transfer the grilled wings to a serving platter and serve at once.