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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.

48 comments on “Three Cups Chicken”

  1. lisa & Dee:: it’s sweet basil

  2. This looks really good but what are the wolfberries called for in the instructions?


  3. I love this dish!! It’s very unhealthy with so much sesame oil but is very delicious =)Love the addition of basil.

  4. I have always wondered what this 3 cups means. Tks for the explanation. Lovely dish!

  5. winlee: If you add wolfberries, do so at the end, about 1/2 tbsp.

  6. This is also one of my fav easy recipes of all…
    yes….the addition of basil makes the taste all different but yours has wolfberries….your own special touch!

  7. This is my hubby’s fav dish. Will try it out over the CNY holidays, and let you know the outcome.

    Thanks SO MUCH for sharing.

  8. This is my dad’s favorite dish. He always orders this in restaurants. :) Will have to cook this for him one of these days :)

  9. I’ve made this before with the 1 1 1 formula… So strongly flavored and excellent with rice.

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