Three cup chicken or san bei ji is a popular Taiwanese recipe. This is an easy and authentic three cup chicken recipe that anyone can make at home.
Three cup chicken (三杯鸡) is one of the most classic Taiwanese recipes, one that I never miss out whenever I eat out at Taiwanese restaurants. I love Taiwanese food—unpretentious, humble, and homey dishes that score high on yum-o-meter.
Taiwanese food is basically Chinese food with local influences, slightly different cooking methods, local adaptations and variations. Many Taiwanese dishes remind me of Chinese-Malaysian food, not due to proximity but the origin of such dishes from Fujian province where many early immigrants settled in Taiwan and Malaysia/Singapore.
The name “three cup chicken” (三杯鸡) comes from the three key ingredients: sesame oil, Chinese rice wine, and soy sauce. “Cups” refer to the equal ratio instead of literal measurement. A true and authentic Taiwanese three cup chicken calls for basil leaves, the soul of the dish that lends an exotic aroma and minty nuance to the taste. Taiwanese also love their “three cup” recipe, for example three cup squid (三杯小卷). Both are equally delectable.
Here is my three cup chicken recipe, adapted to my personal liking. I especially love the sauce with steamed white rice. It’s wonderful! If you like Taiwanese recipes, you should also check out this pork and chicken rolls recipe.
Serves 2- 3 | Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cook Time: 10 Minutes
1 lb chicken drumsticks
1 tablespoon baking soda, to tenderize the chicken, optional
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil or toasted sesame oil
2-inch piece old ginger, peeled and cut into thin pieces
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
A big bunch Thai basil leaves
Cut the chicken into pieces and rub them with the baking soda. Set aside for 10 minutes before rinsing the chicken off with water. Make sure the baking soda is completely rinsed off. Pat dry the chicken pieces and set aside.
Heat up a claypot on high heat and add the dark sesame oil. Add the ginger, garlic, and stir-fry until aromatic. Add in the chicken and do a few quick stirs. Add the soy sauce, dark sweet soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and continue to stir-fry the chicken. Cover the chicken and lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the basil leaves and stir well with the chicken, dish out and serve immediately.
This recipe calls for dark sesame oil or toasted sesame oil, which is different from regular sesame oil. Dark sesame oil is a lot more expensive but the flavor is more intense and with a stronger toasted sesame fragrance.
You can skip the first step of tenderizing the chicken with baking soda. I personally like it because it makes the chicken so tender.
If you don’t have a claypot, you can use a regular wok or pan to make this dish.
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