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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.

Leave a Comment

48 Responses to “Three Cups Chicken”

  1. Nilmandra — January 20, 2009 @ 5:05 am

    Ooh, that looks good for the cold weather here. Btw, is the small clay pot from Daiso? :D


  2. Alice — January 20, 2009 @ 11:13 am

    The three cups chicken in claypot is so perfect! You are always so creative!


  3. [eatingclub] vancouver || js — January 20, 2009 @ 1:04 pm

    Now I know why I want a claypot: to cook this delicious dish like yours. ;)


  4. deeba — January 20, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

    Aaaaaaaaah…this looks so delightful. I quickly ran through the list of ingredients. All I don’t have is Chinese wine ( & wolfberries of course, never heard of them). Do you think I can substitute the wine it with rice wine vinegar? Can just imagine how good this will taste with warm rice…yum yum! That ceramic pot is stunning! :up:


  5. HoppingHammy — January 20, 2009 @ 10:17 pm

    Great photos! I always feel so much more educated, about food in general, after reading your entries. :P It sounds tasty and looks tasty too!


  6. wiffy — January 20, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

    Hi deeba, you can omit the wolfberries. Yes, you can substitute with rice wine vinegar, not too much because it is sourish.


  7. Scott at Realepicurean — January 21, 2009 @ 2:20 am

    happily, this sounds easier than I first thought it would be. It looks like it’s delicious.


  8. Farina — January 21, 2009 @ 10:56 pm

    Just want to wish you Gong Xi Fa Chai Wiffy!


  9. pixen — January 22, 2009 @ 4:56 am

    yumm…yumm…yumm, once I was served this dish in 3 chinese teacups! I can’t remember whether it’s a large or small cups but what’s in it is so yummy… Everyone at the table went ooohhh..ahhhh… admiring the beautiful cups with the chicken insdie but I was saying aloud,”Is this enough?”

    I will try to cook this for my next gathering… bet it will bring back some memory. I think I will use rice bowl instead of tea cups :D


  10. didally — January 22, 2009 @ 10:50 am

    I didn’t know the authentic 三杯鸡 has basil in it.

    I cook something like that but not with equal parts of sesame oil, it’s too heaty for me. :D