Tackling the Three-Cup Chicken

A few months (or weeks?) ago, I was watching the Asian Food Channel and happened to tune in to one of Martin Yan’s cooking programs where he whipped up a fantastic looking dish, which looked relatively easy to prepare.  He called it the Three-Cup Chicken.

Well, it’s named that way because theoretically, in the recipe, you use a total of three cups of the main seasoning ingredients.  One cup each of sesame oil, Chinese cooking wine (rice wine) and soy sauce.

However, I googled a bit and found that the “three-cup rule” for that recipe is just a guideline to follow in that all those three ingredients need to be in the 1:1:1 ratio, and the amount of each depended on the amount of chicken you use.  It’s apparently a very popular Taiwanese dish too, and in Chinese it is called ä¸‰æ¯é¸¡ or sān bÄ“i jÄ«.

An easy recipe, PLUS lots of food blogs claimed that this dish goes insanely well with rice…that’s my cue to try it out!

So that’s what I made for dinner today…When I was cooking the rice wine, it emanated a slight peculiar smell and my kids were asking me what I was cooking.  However, as I served it to them for dinner, I held my breath as they passed their verdict…..thank goodness my kids loved it!  And I even managed to entice them to try a basil leave or two…hehe!!

I love the intentional green bits the basil leaves lend to the dish.  Certainly makes it look more appealing!  I’m biased though, ‘cos I LOVE basil!! 😀

By the way, I added some white button mushrooms to this recipe today, since I had some left over in the fridge.  Those are optional, of course.

Have you tasted the Three-Cup Chicken?  Do you have a similar recipe to share?

Here’s my recipe for this delicious dish, which I will definitely be cooking again:

Three-Cup Chicken (三杯鸡 or sān bÄ“i jÄ«)

Serves: 2-3


  • 2 whole chicken drumsticks and thighs, skin on and cut into pieces
  • Button mushrooms (optional)
  • a piece of ginger (2-3 inches) sliced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and remained whole
  • ¼ cup sesame oil (I actually used only about 1/8 cup of sesame oil, as I felt it ¼ cup might be a bit too oily, but it’s a matter of preference)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Chinese cooking wine (rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Fresh Basil leaves (I used 1 whole packet of fresh basil purchased from Jusco supermarket)


  1. In a hot wok or saucepan, heat up half the amount of the sesame oil and fry the ginger and garlic till fragrant.
  2. Add in the chicken and stir fry for a few minutes till it’s not pink anymore.
  3. Add in the mushrooms (optional).
  4. Add the rest of the sesame oil, rice wine, soy sauce and sugar.
  5. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the flame and simmer slowly for about 10-15 minutes.
  6. You should have some nice gravy now.  Adjust the amount of soy sauce and sugar in the gravy to suite your taste.
  7. Right before serving, add the basil leaves and toss the dish gently until the basil is slightly wilted.
  8. Serve hot with steamed rice (** recommended to go with a bowl of soup too!)
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One Response to Tackling the Three-Cup Chicken

  1. Charmaine says:

    Love 3 cup chicken dish. I like to add capsicum (red or yellow) for some constrast. It’s moreish with steamed rice.

    The Giddy Tigress says: Oooh, that sounds yummy! I love capsicums/bell peppers! Thanks for the rec!

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