Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken

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Three Cup Chicken or 三杯鸡 or sān bēi jī is a quintessential Taiwanese dish. The dish originates from Jiangxi province in southern China, and is a specialty of Ningdu. The dish shares similarities to Hakka-style preparations.

The name “three cups” is derived because of the use of three cups of sauces required to make this dish. However, you’ll noticed that this recipe will not have a cup of each of these sauces, because this recipe has been minimized to serve 4 people rather than to serve a huge group. The chicken is cooked with soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine with the addition of sugar, ginger, garlic, and basil in a earthenware pot on high heat for 10 minutes, and then braised slowly on low heat. The chicken is served sizzling with steamed rice.

Three Cup Chicken is one of those dishes that have never been written down. Every household has their own way of making this dish, but the core ingredients are always the same, just different amounts of each. So feel free to play around with the ingredients to make the dish to your own preference

Where to find Thai Basil Leaves?
If you are in Vancouver, BC, you can purchase this at Asian supermarkets and sometimes you can find it at Superstore or Price Smart. I would recommend checking out T&T Supermarket, Chong Lee’s, or 88 Market.


So what you will need is:

1lb chicken drumsticks, either chopped into 3-inch, bone-in pieces, or thighs halved along the bone, wings split at the joint
1 x 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 to 2 small fresh red chilies, halved or sliced
1 bunch of fresh Thai basil leaves
3 tablespoon sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Cut the chicken into pieces using a butcher knife. Rinse the chicken under cold water. Pat dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel and set aside.
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2. Mix together the rice wine, soy sauces, and sugar.
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3. Next, heat the sesame oil in a large earthen pot or a dutch oven over medium-high heat.
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4. Add the ginger, garlic, and chilies, and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
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5. Add the chicken pieces and lightly brown, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes.
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6. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, sugar mixture and bring to a boil.
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7. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the sauce has reduced, about 15 minutes.
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8. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve immediately with rice.
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Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken

So what you will need is:

1lb chicken drumsticks, either chopped into 3-inch, bone-in pieces, or thighs halved along the bone, wings split at the joint
1 x 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 to 2 small fresh red chilies, halved or sliced
1 bunch of fresh Thai basil leaves
3 tablespoon sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

  1. Cut the chicken into pieces using a butcher knife. Rinse the chicken under cold water. Pat dry the chicken pieces with a paper towel and set aside.
  2. Mix together the rice wine, soy sauces, and sugar.
  3. Next, heat the sesame oil in a large earthen pot or a dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic, and chilies, and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and lightly brown, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, sugar mixture and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the sauce has reduced, about 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve immediately with rice.

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Thank you for reading! Hope you enjoyed this recipe. I’d like to see how they turned out! “#sweetrehabkitchen“. If you have any suggestions of what you’d like to see me make next, let me know in the comments below!

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