Three Cup Chicken (三杯鸡 - “San Bei Ji”)

Three Cup Chicken (12 of 18)

Three Cup Chicken, or “San Bei Ji” is a popular standard dish in Taiwan. Why “three cups”? Well, the name refers to the recipe used to make it, i.e. a cup of each of the three ingredients that create the sauce: rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

No two households will make this dish exactly the same way. The basic recipe. however, will consist of using these three ingredients to create a thick, dark, reduced syrupy sauce that absorbs right into the chicken. It really is an easy recipe, as everything is just chop and drop and stir frying it all together in one big wok (or a skillet if you don’t have a wok). For my adjusted version, I did not use exactly three cups of each (must have been for a bucketload of chicken).

As for the meat, feel free to opt for chicken wings or chicken drumsticks or thighs. I personally like using thighs. Can’t beat the taste of juicy chunks of meat with no bones. As for the garnish and extra ‘kick’ in flavour, if you can find Thai basil, then great, use that. If you can’t, regular basil or scallions will suffice.

INGREDIENTS (serves 3):

  • 3 chicken thighs (~1/2 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, sliced into rounds
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Small bunch of Thai or regular basilThree Cup Chicken (2 of 18)


1) Wash chicken thighs and trim excess fat. Slice into smaller bite-size pieces. Three Cup Chicken (4 of 18)

2) Slice the ginger and garlic.

Three Cup Chicken (3 of 18)

3) Heat wok over medium heat. Add sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Heat for a couple of minutes to let the ginger and garlic aroma infuse into the oil.

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4) Add chopped chicken thighs into the wok in one even layer. Sear the thighs until golden brown on both sides, approximately 5 minutes.

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5) Add 1/4 cup shaoxing wine and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Cover the wok. Simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes to cook the chicken through.

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6) When time is up, remove the cover and quickly turn up the heat so the remaining sauce reduces and clings to the chicken to give it a rich, dark colour. Make sure to stir the chicken during this process to prevent burning. Toss in the basil and fry for a few more minutes until the basil has wilted and chicken turns dark. Three Cup Chicken (10 of 18) Three Cup Chicken (11 of 18) 7) Congratulations, the cooking has been done. Plate up the chicken and serve. Serve with a bowl of rice and enjoy! Three Cup Chicken (1 of 18)

Three Cup Chicken (13 of 18)

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