Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken
Three cup chicken or san bei ji (三杯鸡) is one of the most classic Taiwanese recipes. I always order this dish whenever I eat out at Taiwanese restaurants.
I love Taiwanese recipes because they are unpretentious, humble and homey dishes that are easy to make at home.
Taiwanese cuisine is basically Chinese food with local influences with slightly different cooking methods, local adaptations and variations.
Many Taiwanese dishes remind me of Chinese-Malaysian food. Both share the same origin from Fujian province in China as many early immigrants settled in Taiwan, Malaysia or Singapore.
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Why Is It Called Three Cup Chicken?
The name three cup chicken (三杯鸡) comes from the three key ingredients in the recipe:
- Sesame oil
- Chinese rice wine
- Soy sauce
“Cups” refer to the equal ratio instead of literal measurement of three cup chicken recipe.
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 all sorts of “three cup” recipes, for example three cup squid (三杯小卷), tofu, mushrooms or eggplant. All of them are delicious!
How to Make Three Cup Chicken Crispy?
If you like crispy chicken, you may deep fry the chicken quickly until the outer part of the chicken are fried, but may not cooked through inside.
Drain the chicken with paper towels and follow the remaining cooking steps.
How Many Calories Per Serving?
This recipe is only 308 calories per serving.
What Dishes to Serve with Three Cup Chicken Recipe?
This dish is best served as a main entree, with steamed rice. For a wholesome Taiwanese meal and easy weeknight dinner, I recommend the following recipes.
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- 1 lb. (0.4 kg) chicken drumsticks, chicken thighs or a combination of chicken parts
- 1 tablespoon baking soda to tenderize the chicken, optional
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil or toasted sesame oil
- 2-inch (5 cm) 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
- 1 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. This is an optional step.
- Heat up a clay pot on high heat and add the 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 lid, 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.
If you don't have sweet soy sauce or kecap manis, you may use 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce and add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
If you like crispy three cup chicken, you may deep fry the chicken quickly until the outer part of the chicken are fried, but may not cooked through inside. Drain the oil with paper towels and follow the remaining cooking steps.
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 clay pot, you can use a regular wok or pan to make this dish.
Serving Size3 people
Amount Per Serving Calories 308Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 93mgSodium 1866mgCarbohydrates 12gFiber 1gSugar 7gProtein 19g