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The Chicken Recipe My Family Carried With Them on Their Journey to America

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones. This week, in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, writer Lisa Lee Herrick ex…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones. This week, in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, writer Lisa Lee Herrick explores her family's tormented past to reveal the roots of her favorite home recipe.


When I was growing up, there was only one thing that I looked forward to more than winter break and Christmas: my mother’s sticky chicken wings stuffed with ground pork and herbed glass noodles, roasted until golden with a spicy fish sauce–caramel glaze. It was a glistening, umami-packed delicacy delivered from her tiny kitchen only once a year for Hmong New Year, just in time for my aunt’s weeklong visit for the festival. I remember the salty-sweet tang of sea brine sharpening burnt sugar, earthy black mushrooms melding with savory minced pork, crispy roasted chicken skin crackling under the broiler, the redolent steam fogging every window and clinging to our skin like the sillage of a rich perfume. I dreamt about those chicken wings all through college and even once I moved to San Francisco, long after I had left my mother—but before I realized how much I missed her.

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