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Three Cups Chicken

Three Cups Chicken

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Note: This was first posted in Jan 2009, now updated with new photos and improved recipe.

Three Cups Chicken (San Bei Ji; 三杯鸡) is a popular chicken dish in Taiwanese cuisine. The name is catchy and fancy – in layman terms, it is basically chicken simmered in the trio combination of sesame oil, soy sauce and Chinese wine.

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Despite being called “3 cups”, it does not necessary mean adding one cup each of the condiment – rather, equal parts (1:1:1) of each condiment depending on the amount of chicken you have. One cup of soy sauce and sesame oil, for example, is really too much if you are only cooking for two. 

Three Cups Chicken

Although equal parts is a general rule, one can (and should) be flexible and adjust the ingredients to your liking – for example I generally use lesser light soy sauce to reduce the saltiness, and more Chinese wine and sesame oil for added aroma. What makes this dish quintessentially Taiwanese style is that it is cooked entirely in a Chinese claypot, however you can still cook this either in a wok or other cookware you normally used if you do not have a claypot. Fresh sweet basil is also added at the end as a fragrant finishing touch to this homely dish.

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48 Responses to “Three Cups Chicken”

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  1. Joyce — January 16, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

    Ooh…moutwatering chicken dish. i haven’t made any chicken dishes with soy sauce of late.This looks like a good one to try out. Thanks.


  2. lisaiscooking — January 16, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

    That sounds so flavorful. What type of basil is traditional to the Taiwanese style? Is it the same as Italian basil, or is it spicy Thai basil?


  3. Peter — January 17, 2009 @ 2:44 am

    This sounds wonderful and easy. VIVA FORMOSA!


  4. beachloverkitchen — January 17, 2009 @ 2:47 am

    I love this dish!! must order this dish everytime I visit Taiwanese restaurant! I didn’t know basil leaves is an optional.All the while I thought 3 cup chiken must have basil leaves! It’s nice to know:)


  5. Little Corner of Mine — January 17, 2009 @ 3:28 am

    Yummy! I adore this dish too! I once used 1/2 cup for each measurement and it was way too salty and oily!! I learned from my mistake. :)


  6. Reeni — January 17, 2009 @ 4:44 am

    It looks very tasty! And very garlic-ee, yum!!


  7. diva — January 17, 2009 @ 7:48 am

    oooh, i don’t think i’ve ever tried this dish but i can imagine the taste in my mouth just looking at the recipe. it looks so good!! x


  8. smallsmallbaker — January 17, 2009 @ 8:30 am

    Wow, this looks so delicious! Irresistable! I’m saving this recipe and learn to cook it.


  9. Dee — January 17, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

    Yum! Quick question: do I use Thai basil or sweet?


  10. Marc @ NoRecipes — January 17, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

    Ooooo this looks so good. I just bought 10 lbs. (yes that’s “ten”) of chicken and have been trying to figure out what to do with it all. This will defiantly be dinner one night. Love how simple this is!


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