BOWIE, Md. - In DC, you can't have wings without mumbo sauce-- but have you ever made it yourself? In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, we asked the pros-- Charles and Stephanie Smith, owners of Chuck's Wagon BBQ in Bowie, Md.-- to show us how it's done.
If right now you're asking yourself, 'What's mumbo sauce?'-- we can help. It's a tangy, spicy sauce that many residents of the DMV consider to be local (more on that in a minute).
For years, DC wing lovers have doused their fried chicken wings with the tomato-based, reddish (or sometimes orangish-red) sauce, but it goes well with much more than that. It's a little different from place to place, depending on who is making it and the ingredients that are used.
But one thing that's always the same? The deliciousness. Is your mouth watering yet, or is that just us?
MUMBO SAUCE: A D.C. ORIGINAL...?
You'll find mumbo sauce in chicken wing carry-outs and Asian restaurants all across the DC area. Locals will tell you it started in the District, though a quick Google search will show you there's been a bit of a (legal) debate over the years when it comes to exactly when and where it originated.
Chicagoans would argue mumbo sauce didn't start in DC at all. Instead, a Chicago barbeque restaurant called Argia B's claimed they started it--and the restauranteur's family has stood up to protect the name. They went after the company formerly known as Capital City Mumbo Sauce for trademark infringment-- a case they won. Capital City is now known as Capital City Mambo Sauce, which is available online and in several local stores.
Today, Capital City's website tells you the sauce is a tradition that's a DC staple, "like half smokes, Go-Go music and Taxation Without Representation." Like many locals, the site says it originated in the late 1960s at Wing-n-Things, first located at 7th and Florida Ave. NW. Capital City's website says the condiment was first meant for wings, but it got so popular that Asian restaurants adopted their own versions-- and so did others.
No matter who had it first, the fact that mumbo sauce is a quintessential DC condiment isn't something that can be denied, if you ask DMV chicken wing lovers.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN MUMBO SAUCE
So let's get down to business: How can you make your own mumbo sauce at home? All you have to do is follow these easy steps.
1. Gather your ingredients:
- White sugar
- White vinegar
- Hot sauce
2. Pour all the ingredients into a large pot.
3. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
4. Put it on the stove, and bring it to a boil-- and that's it!
The result? Sweet, sour, spicy delicious mumbo sauce.
WHAT CAN YOU PUT IT ON?
The question is probably more accurately, what CAN'T you put it on? Mumbo sauce is perfect for your wings and fries-- but the Smiths say you'll love it on fried fish, fried shrimp, ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, and even chicken pizza.
Chuck's Wagon BBQ is located at 6946 Laurel Bowie Road in Bowie. They've been in business since 2005. Their slogan? "If you can't smell the smoke, it ain't real."