“It’s just like pulling off a really tight sock,” said Phiroum Svy matter-of-factly. I had never thought of it that way. Then again, I’d never tried deboning a whole chicken before. (Here’s some trivia for you: debone and bone are synonyms, go figure!)
We were in Phiroum’s Covington kitchen preparing to make a Cambodian dish called moane teum which means yoked or joined chicken. It’s so named probably because the chicken is deboned and stuffed with a ground pork mixture, hence the joining of two meats? Visions of turducken came to mind.
Anyways, Phiroum was very eager to show me how to debone the chicken, thighs, wings and all.
**Advisory warning: if you are squeamish about raw chicken, do not, I repeat, do not read on.**
With all the patience of a grade school teacher she rolled up her sleeves and took her paring knife to the chicken’s breast bone. She inserted it into one side of the breast bone and sliced down the middle.
Then little by little, bit by bit, she separated the meat from the bone.
“The trick is to keep your knife as close to the bone as possible so as not to tear the skin,” she advised. “When you find the leg joint, insert the knife just against the bone and detach as you go.” The same goes for the wing joint.
Phiroum confessed that she hadn’t done this in a long time and professed to be out of practice. But watching her deftly scrape meat away from the bone and tug at the chicken skin, I was doubtful. Very soon all that lay on the cutting board was a limp chicken carcass soon to be stuffed.
I don’t know how many of you out there would be adventurous enough to try this at home so I won’t go into too much detail (if you’re a die-hard, go here). Besides, the best way to learn is through hands-on experience. Ask Phiroum–she’s a self-taught deboner.
Cambodian Stuffed Chicken Wings (Moane Teum)
Whether whole or as wings, this stuffed chicken recipe can only be described as mmm … mmm … lip-smacking delicious. I tried my hand at deboning wings and yes, it’s a lot of work but it’s worth it! It’s a popular Cambodian dish (the Thais and Vietnamese have a similar dish) but not something you’d eat or make everyday since it’s pretty labor-intensive. Even though I’ve written it up as a chicken wing recipe, you can use the stuffing for a whole deboned chicken (about 4-5 pounds) if you dare. Be warned, you’re going to have to practice your sewing skills too.
The versatile stuffing can also be used as a filling for fried spring rolls or in a rolled pork tenderloin.
Makes: 8-10 servings
20 deboned chicken wings, wingtips included (*deboning instructions below)
2-1/2 pounds ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup mung bean thread noodles, soaked for one hour and cut into 1/2-inch lengths (about 1/8 of 16oz package)
8 wood ear mushrooms, chopped coarsely (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
1/2 tablespoon sweet soy sauce or oyster sauce
1-1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
In a big bowl, marinate deboned wings with 2 tablespoons soy sauce.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Your hand is your best tool.
Gently squeeze meat mixture into each wing, filling until the wing tip joint. Don’t worry about holes in the skin.
Place wings in a baking pan, top down (you want the serving side to brown and crisp during the second half of cooking). Broil on low in oven till golden brown on one side, about 20 minutes. Flip and cook for another 20 minutes. Do not use baking mode because chicken will not brown.
Cut into slices and serve immediately.
If you stuffed a whole chicken, this is what it should look like:
*Using a small sharp paring knife, start at the top of the drummette. Gently scrape the meat away from the bone leaving the skin intact. Pull skin and meat down as you go. At the first joint, use tip of knife to slide into joint to remove skin away from the bone first. Continue easing the flesh away from the bone. Push the skin and flesh down to expose the bones and carefully twist each bone out. Important: don’t break the bone till you get to the second joint!