“Three Cup Chicken” is a literal translation of 'San Bei Ji (三杯鸡)'. Taiwanese love the dish immensely and have created so many variations of it using either seafood or other types of meat.
I absolutely enjoy this dish a lot as the gravy is very flavourful and fragrant because of the sesame oil. The end result of the gravy should be slightly thick and shiny as it coats the meat. Personally, I love browning the chicken’s skin first to add a rough texture to it and that would enable the gravy to coat the chicken even better. The saucy chicken pieces are too irresistible to be ignored!
Cooking Three Cup Chicken is very simple as the core ingredients are simply soy sauce, sesame oil and 'shaoxing' wine. Traditionally, the recipe calls for one cup of each ingredient. However, I altered the amount since I am not using that much chicken. 'Shaoxing' wine can be substituted with dry sherry instead but it should not be omitted if you want to create this classic Taiwanese dish. If possible, opt for toasted sesame oil when cooking this dish. This is because toasted sesame oil will be reduced as the gravy simmers to create a thick sauce. However, pure sesame oil will not reduce during the cooking process. Subsequently, adding maltose will help to thicken the gravy. In this recipe, you may also use sugar as a sweetener.
While the three condiments are extremely important for this classic Three Cup Chicken, garlic and ginger both play equally important roles too. They need to be sautéed in sesame oil until fragrant before 'shaoxing' wine and soy sauce are added. At the same time, you have to be really careful not to burn the garlic and ginger.
I have chosen to use sweet basil instead of Thai basil in this dish. Choose the latter if you want to stay close to the authentic recipe. Either way, the smell of basil will add so much fragrance to the dish. Another element which makes Three Cup Chicken really memorable is the spiciness. It is not overpowering but definitely enough to tickle your taste buds. I usually use fresh chillies but sometimes, dried chillies are used too.
The recipe is rather simple, which is why I enjoy cooking this dish after a long day at work. Extremely fast and definitely no fuss! Serve 'San Bei Ji' with some warm white rice. Let me know if you enjoyed this recipe by uploading your food snap below, or if you have adapted it in your own way. I would love to hear your experience.
Three Cup Chicken is also known as: 三杯鸡San Bei Ji
Heat sesame oil over medium heat. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant.
Then add chicken pieces with skin facing down. Allow skin to brown before turning them over.
Add 'Shaoxing' wine and soy sauce into pan followed by maltose and chili slices. Allow dish to simmer over low heat until gravy thickens. Turn off the stove and add fresh basil. Give the dish a quick toss. Serve with white rice.