Three Cup Chicken (三杯雞)

One thing I like about New York City is its vast array of cuisines from different cultural backgrounds across different continents. That means I get to sample different dishes from different eateries or even different dishes from the same restaurant without repeating for the rest of my life….

But (as there is always the other side of the story)…there are special times that I discover a dish and would make me go WOW and keep on ordering the same dish religious over and over again like an addict.

One of such a dish is Three Cup Chicken – an extremely popular Taiwanese dishes that occupies every Taiwanese restaurant I have been to.

If you are like me who loves Taiwanese food but have never heard/had this dish before, stop reading now and check it out at the nearest Taiwanese restaurant you can find immediately! Alternatively, you can follow the simpl recipe below and serve yourself this heavenly dish tonight.

Three cup chicken originated from Jiangxi province, China. The name three cup refers to a equal portion of three essential ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice cooking wine.

The divine aroma of sesame oil combined with other ingredients such as ginger, garlic, chili, and basil leaves makes this three cup dish incredibly unique and delicious.

In this home made version, the ratio between the sauces is adjusted to mimic what I’ve had in the restaurant. I substitute the deep-frying chicken part with simply browning the meat, giving the chicken the same texture but it’s a tad healthier. Also, if you are not used to eat chicken with bones and skin you can also use chicken breast (however this will reduce the flavor slightly).

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Three Cup Chicken – Ingredients

  • 1.5lb Fresh chicken
  • 3 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce (regular)
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce (dark)
  • 4 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp Sichuan chili bean paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 5 clove Garlic
  • 4 slice Ginger
  • 2 Red chili, cut to 1 inch
  • ½ tsp White pepper powder
  • 2 Scallion, cut into segments
  • 1 cup Fresh Thai basil

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Three Cup Chicken – Step By Step

1. Cut the chicken into 2 x 2 chucks. In a wok, add 2 tbsp of cooking oil and brown the chicken over high heat. Stir frequently to avoid sticking. About 5 minutes. Once done set the chicken aside.

2. Over medium heat, combine sesame oil, garlic cloves, ginger, and the white part of scallion in a wok. Stir fry until fragrant.

3. Mix in the browned chicken. Add soy sauce, cooking wine, and sugar. Mix well with the chicken. Cover the lid and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Stir the chicken periodically. Take away the lid and cook for another 3 minutes until the sauce is significantly reduced.

4. Add the white pepper powder, red chili and fresh basil and mix well with the chicken. Cook for another 3 minutes. Serve in a hot clay pot or casserole.

Tips
*Do not add water as it will water down the flavor. If it’s gets dry before the chicken is fully cooked, add more cooking wine!!
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Serve this with white rice!!

21 comments

  1. 11

    Hi Yi,

    I love the dish, I always wonder what was the green leaves, I finally confirmed it is basil. I used a lot of basil in my Italian pasta. But, I haven’t tried fried Basil, I guess the frying part enhance the aroma of the leaves.

    I tried to print this recipe to easy read while cooking, but there isn’t a print button.

    By the way, do you have a recipe for taiwanese beef noodle? I want to try your version. I have tried so many recipes, but I can’t find the recipe of a perfect beef noodle yet.

    Thanks greatly

    • 11.1

      Hello Hellen, thanks for checking out my site. Please note the basil used in this recipe is not the Italian basil you’d normally use but the Thai basil. The two are pretty different in terms of aroma. I also enjoy Taiwanese style beef noodle soup but haven’t had a chance to share a recipe on my site yet. Will put that on my to-do list. I do have a Sichuan style beef noodle soup that you can check out in the meantime 🙂

  2. 10

    Hi Yi,
    I am perusing your site and have found many recipes I would like to try. My problem is I have a lot of trouble w/hot or spicey ingredients…so I have had to modify many recipes using substitutes. What can you suggest when chili paste, or similar is used. It’s the heat of the spice my system can’t tolerate.
    Also am looking for a good mei fun (or chinese noodle)soup recipe. I have been dabbling on my own but feel something is missing.
    Would like an easy chow mein or chop suey recipe as well.
    I am quite the cook but have to often adapt as I go due to digestive issues. Any help you can give is appreciated.
    Annie

    • 10.1

      Hi Annie, thanks for visiting my site. To answer your questions, there is no universal substitute the Sichuan chili paste as it is rather a unique condiment and the chili is part of the flavor profile. If you had to substitute with something, you can use sweet bean paste such as hoisin sauce in place of chili bean paste. It’s not the same but at least you capture some of that fermented bean flavor. As to Chinese noodle soup recipe, can you be a little specific? There are a lot of variations in Chinese soup noodle and a Cantonese stylpe can taste completely different from Sichuan style. Here are some examples: Sichuan beef noodle and Cantonese Roast Pork noodle. Will look into posting chow mein (stir-fried rice noodles) and chop suey recipes.

  3. Pingback: Black Rice with Mango in Coconut Sauce | Yi Reservation

  4. 9

    Hi,

    The Step by Step section says “Lotus Root and Peanuts Soup with Pork – Step By Step” instead of “Three Cup Chicken – Step By Step”

  5. 8

    I love finding good, authentic asian cooking blogs. Love the look of this chicken. Yum!

  6. 7

    I enjoy this dish very much. So good with steamed rice. 😀 You are making me hungry.

  7. 6

    This is the way I like too, replacing deep-frying by pan-frying. I also heart your use of fresh chicken.

    • 6.1

      Hi TasteHongKong, thanks for your visit! I tend to avoid deep-frying at home whenever I can – it makes the food a little healthier but also saves me a lot of hassle from dealing with the leftover oil 🙂

  8. 5

    I have a Taiwanese husband who loves to go to Taiwanese restaurant. My kids naturally start to love this 2 cup chicken and we enjoy this dish at a restaurant. Time to cook at home with your recipe! 😉 Thank you for sharing this!

  9. 4

    i also can never get enuf of 3 cup chicken!!! sometimes we make it vegetarian by having 3 cup mushrooms hehe, which u can also find on the menu in taiwan haha. looking at your photos is making me salivate right now…great food styling/photography btw!

    • 4.1

      Hi Viv, I have made squid and shrimp with the three cup sauce but never with mushroom. I am a big mushroom person so I’ll definitely try out the mushroom recipe. Thanks for letting me know.

  10. 3

    Looks great! Three cups chicken is one of my favourite Taiwanese dishes 🙂

  11. 2

    I love all the flavors in this beautiful soup — the sesame oil/garlic/ginger combo is fantastic!

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