Three Cup Chicken recipe from cooking with cocktail rings

Three Cup Chicken

After having this at a restaurant I just had to look up the origins of the name. The name for this Taiwanese dish actually comes from the original recipe for this dish that called for equal cups of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. There are debates as to why it called for these measurements; whether it was because recipes were passed down through spoken word rather than written down or because in China during the 13th Century a guard made this dish using limited resources for a war hero’s last meal prior to his execution.



2 tablespoons peanut oil

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into ½-inch pieces

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine

¼ cup toasted sesame oil*

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

4 dried red peppers or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

¼ cup chopped Thai basil leaves



Heat a wok over medium-high heat, add the peanut oil, garlic and ginger. Stir constantly until garlic is golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken, stirring, until the chicken is browned on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and brown sugar.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened to the consistency of maple syrup, about 15 minutes. If the chicken is cooked through, but the sauce has not reduced enough, remove the chicken from the wok and set aside in a bowl; cover to keep warm. Continue to cook the sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally until thickened to the desired consistency. Return the chicken to the sauce, stirring to combine then add the red peppers, scallions and basil.

To serve: Divide the chicken among plates and serve with a side of white rice.


Serves 4.


*Note: Make sure you use toasted sesame oil, the sauce will reduce more, you want to get a slightly thick, almost sticky sauce.




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