Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken Recipe

Three Cup Chicken, or San Bei Ji, is a popular traditional Taiwanese dish. Named for the three key ingredients - sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine, this dish is characterized by its aromatic and savory flavors. It is cooked in a pot and simmered until the sauce is absorbed, making it an ideal pairing for a bowl of fluffy white rice.

Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken Recipe
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Photos of Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken Recipe

The traditional recipe calls for Thai basil leaves and red chilies, which may not be readily available in your local supermarket. Thai basil leaves have a unique flavor profile, with a stronger and spicier taste compared to the sweet Italian basil. Red chilies are used to add heat to the dish. If you can't find them, you can substitute with any fresh hot peppers available.

Ingredients for Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

Vegetable oil: Used for initial browning of the chicken.

Chicken thighs: They are juicier and more flavorful than the breast.

Sesame oil: It gives a nutty, rich flavor to the dish.

Fresh ginger: Adds a unique, spicy flavor and aids in digestion.

Garlic cloves: Adds a pungent, savory flavor.

Dry sherry: Used as a cooking wine, it enhances the flavor.

Soy sauce: Saltiness and umami come from this key ingredient.

Water: Helps in the cooking process.

White sugar: Balances the savory flavor with a hint of sweetness.

Thai basil leaves: Adds a distinct and robust flavor.

Red chilies: Gives a spicy kick to the dish.

One reader, Blakelee Bounds says:

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This Taiwanese-style three cup chicken recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are rich and aromatic, and the chicken turns out tender and juicy. The combination of ginger, garlic, and basil creates a delightful harmony of tastes. It's a must-try for anyone looking to explore new and delicious flavors.

Blakelee Bounds

Techniques Required for Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

How to brown the chicken: Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces and cook for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

How to infuse flavors with sesame oil, ginger, and garlic: Heat sesame oil in the skillet, then add ginger and garlic. Cook and stir for about 30 seconds, until the ginger begins to brown.

How to simmer the chicken with sherry, soy sauce, and sugar: Stir in the reserved chicken, sherry, soy sauce, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until there is only ¼ cup of liquid left in the skillet.

How to finish the dish with basil and chilies: Stir in the basil and chilies, and increase heat to medium. Continue cooking until the liquid is almost gone.

How to serve: Serve with noodles or rice. Enjoy!

How To Make Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

This three cup chicken is a favorite in Taiwan! Enjoy chicken chunks cooked in soy sauce, rice wine, Thai basil, and ginger, served over noodles or rice.

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Serves:

Ingredients

  • 1tbspvegetable oil
  • lbchicken thighs,skinless, boneless, and cut into chunks
  • ½cupsesame oil
  • 10slicesfresh ginger
  • 2garlic cloves,sliced
  • ½cupdry sherry
  • cupsoy sauce
  • ¼cupwater
  • 3tbspwhite sugar
  • ½cupThai basil leaves,fresh
  • 3red chilies,whole, dried

Instructions

  1. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces, and cook for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

  2. Heat sesame oil in skillet, then add ginger and garlic. Cook and stir for about 30 seconds, until the ginger begins to brown.

  3. Stir in the reserved chicken, sherry, soy sauce, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until there is only ¼ cup of liquid left in the skillet.

  4. Stir in the basil and chiles, and increase heat to medium. Continue cooking until the liquid is almost gone.

  5. Serve with noodles or rice. Enjoy!

Nutrition

  • Calories: 723.65kcal
  • Fat: 59.21g
  • Saturated Fat: 11.82g
  • Trans Fat: 0.17g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 25.17g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 17.95g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.21g
  • Fiber: 0.53g
  • Sugar: 9.87g
  • Protein: 30.23g
  • Cholesterol: 166.70mg
  • Sodium: 1308.43mg
  • Calcium: 29.90mg
  • Potassium: 503.11mg
  • Iron: 1.69mg
  • Vitamin A: 49.19µg
  • Vitamin C: 3.34mg

Technique Tip for Perfecting Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

When cooking the chicken, ensure that it is browned evenly on all sides. This not only enhances the flavor by caramelizing the surface, but also seals in the juices, keeping the meat tender and moist. To achieve this, do not overcrowd the skillet and give each piece enough space to cook properly. Turning the pieces frequently also helps in even browning.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Three Cup Chicken

Prep ahead: Chop and measure all ingredients in advance to streamline the cooking process.

Use a pressure cooker: Speed up the cooking time by using a pressure cooker to tenderize the chicken more quickly.

Multi-task: While the chicken is simmering, prepare the side dish or set the table to make the most of your time in the kitchen.

Organize your workspace: Keep your cooking area tidy and organized to avoid wasting time searching for ingredients or utensils.

Quick cleanup: Clean as you go to minimize the post-cooking cleanup, making the process more efficient.

Substitute Ingredients For Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken Recipe

  • vegetable oil - Substitute with canola oil: Canola oil has a neutral flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable substitute for vegetable oil in this recipe.

  • sesame oil - Substitute with peanut oil: Peanut oil has a similar nutty flavor to sesame oil and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • dry sherry - Substitute with rice vinegar: Rice vinegar can provide a similar tangy flavor to the dish and can be used as a substitute for dry sherry.

  • soy sauce - Substitute with tamari: Tamari is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • white sugar - Substitute with brown sugar: Brown sugar can add a slightly richer flavor compared to white sugar, enhancing the depth of the dish.

  • thai basil leaves - Substitute with regular basil leaves: Regular basil leaves can provide a similar aromatic flavor and can be used as a substitute for Thai basil in this recipe.

  • red chilies - Substitute with jalapeños: Jalapeños can provide a similar level of heat and flavor to the dish and can be used as a substitute for red chilies.

Presenting Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

  1. Elevate the dish with precision plating: When presenting the Taiwanese-style three cup chicken, pay attention to the placement of each component on the plate. Ensure that the chicken is the focal point and arrange the Thai basil leaves and red chilies around it in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

  2. Incorporate contrasting textures: Introduce a textural element to the dish by garnishing with toasted sesame seeds or crushed peanuts. This will add a delightful crunch and elevate the overall dining experience.

  3. Utilize elegant tableware: Select exquisite ceramic plates or Japanese-style serving dishes to showcase the dish. The choice of tableware can enhance the visual appeal and sophistication of the presentation.

  4. Emphasize color contrast: Consider incorporating vibrant elements such as a drizzle of vibrant green scallion oil or a sprinkle of finely chopped red bell peppers to create a visually striking contrast against the rich, dark hues of the chicken and sauce.

  5. Highlight the aroma: Just before serving, present the dish to the judges, allowing them to savor the aromatic essence of the dish. The fragrant aroma of the three cup chicken will captivate the senses and build anticipation for the tasting experience.

Essential Tools for Making Three Cup Chicken

  • Skillet: A flat-bottomed pan used for frying, searing, and sautéing ingredients.
  • Large skillet: A larger version of a skillet, ideal for cooking larger quantities of food.
  • Sesame oil: An aromatic oil made from sesame seeds, commonly used in Asian cooking for its rich, nutty flavor.
  • Vegetable oil: A neutral-flavored oil derived from plants, suitable for various cooking methods such as frying and sautéing.
  • Ginger: A pungent, aromatic root used to add flavor and fragrance to dishes.
  • Garlic: A pungent, flavorful bulb used to add depth of flavor to a wide range of dishes.
  • Thai basil leaves: A variety of basil with a distinct anise flavor, commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine.
  • Food processor: A versatile kitchen appliance used for chopping, blending, and pureeing ingredients.
  • Mixing bowl: A bowl used for combining ingredients, particularly in baking and cooking preparations.
  • Red chilies: Spicy peppers used to add heat and flavor to dishes.
  • Measuring cups: Tools used to accurately measure dry and liquid ingredients in cooking and baking.
  • Measuring spoons: Utensils used to measure small amounts of ingredients with precision.
  • Cutting board: A flat surface used for cutting and preparing ingredients.
  • Knife: A sharp tool used for slicing, chopping, and dicing ingredients.
  • Saucepan: A deep cooking vessel with a handle, used for heating and preparing sauces, soups, and stews.
  • Wooden spoon: A utensil made of wood, commonly used for stirring and mixing ingredients while cooking.
  • Tongs: A kitchen tool with two arms and a pivot, used for gripping and lifting hot or delicate foods.
  • Ladle: A long-handled spoon with a deep bowl, used for serving soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Whisk: A utensil with a handle and wire loops, used for beating, whipping, and blending ingredients.

Storing and Freezing Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

  • Allow the taiwanese-style three cup chicken to cool completely before storing or freezing.
  • For short-term storage, place the cooled chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
  • To freeze the chicken:
    • Divide the cooled chicken into portion-sized containers or freezer bags.
    • If using freezer bags, remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
    • Label the containers or bags with the date and contents for easy identification.
    • Place the containers or bags in the freezer, where they can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat the frozen taiwanese-style three cup chicken:
    • Thaw the chicken overnight in the refrigerator.
    • Transfer the thawed chicken to a skillet or saucepan.
    • Heat the chicken over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is heated through and the sauce is bubbling.
    • If the sauce appears too thick, add a small amount of water or chicken broth to thin it out.
    • Garnish with fresh thai basil leaves and red chilies before serving, if desired.

How To Reheat Leftover Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover taiwanese-style three cup chicken in an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. This method helps to retain the moisture in the chicken and prevent it from drying out.

  • If you prefer a quicker method, you can reheat the chicken in the microwave. Place the leftovers in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. Be sure to stir the chicken halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating.

  • For a stovetop method, place the leftover three cup chicken in a skillet over medium heat. Add a splash of water or chicken broth to the skillet to help keep the chicken moist. Cover the skillet with a lid and heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through. Stir occasionally to prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.

  • If you want to add a fresh twist to your leftovers, try shredding the reheated chicken and using it as a filling for tacos, burritos, or sandwiches. You can also add the shredded chicken to a salad or soup for a quick and easy meal.

  • To help retain the flavor and moisture of the leftover taiwanese-style three cup chicken, be sure to store it properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last for up to 3-4 days when stored correctly.

Interesting Fact About Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

Three Cup Chicken is a traditional Taiwanese dish that gets its name from the three key ingredients used in the recipe: soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine. This combination creates a unique and flavorful sauce that coats the tender chicken pieces, making it a popular and beloved dish in Taiwanese cuisine.

Is Three Cup Chicken an Economical Home-Cooked Meal?

This Taiwanese-style Three Cup Chicken recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The key ingredients, such as chicken thighs, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce, are generally affordable and widely available. The dish offers a delightful blend of flavors and textures, making it a satisfying and economical choice for a family meal. The approximate cost for a household of four people would be around $15-20, depending on the prices of the ingredients in your area. Overall Verdict: 9.

Is Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken Healthy or Unhealthy?

The Taiwanese-style three cup chicken recipe is a flavorful dish, but it may not be the healthiest option due to a few factors:

  • The recipe uses a significant amount of sesame oil and vegetable oil, which are high in calories and fat.
  • The dish contains added sugar, which can contribute to excessive calorie intake and potential health issues if consumed regularly.
  • The recipe lacks vegetables, which are essential for a balanced and nutritious meal.

However, the recipe does include some healthy ingredients, such as garlic and ginger, which have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. The use of chicken thighs provides a good source of protein, which is essential for maintaining and repairing body tissues.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of sesame oil and vegetable oil used in the recipe, or opt for healthier cooking methods like grilling or baking the chicken instead of frying.
  • Decrease the amount of added sugar or replace it with a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
  • Incorporate more vegetables into the dish, such as bell peppers, onions, or broccoli, to increase the fiber and nutrient content.
  • Serve the chicken with a side of brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice or noodles to add more fiber and complex carbohydrates to the meal.
  • Use low-sodium soy sauce to reduce the overall sodium content of the dish.

Editor's Thoughts on Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

This Taiwanese-style three cup chicken recipe is a delightful blend of flavors and textures. The combination of sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce creates a rich and aromatic sauce that perfectly complements the tender chicken thighs. The addition of Thai basil and red chilies adds a pop of freshness and heat, elevating the dish to a whole new level. The cooking process allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a dish that is both savory and slightly sweet. This recipe is a wonderful representation of Taiwanese cuisine and is sure to impress anyone who tries it.

Enhance Your Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Steamed Bok Choy: Create a refreshing and crunchy steamed bok choy with a drizzle of oyster sauce for a perfect balance of flavors.
Mango Sticky Rice: Indulge in a sweet and creamy mango sticky rice dessert to complement the savory and aromatic three cup chicken.
Coconut Milk Soup: Warm up with a comforting and creamy coconut milk soup filled with tender chicken pieces and fragrant herbs.

Dishes Similar to Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

Spicy Beef Stir-Fry: This spicy beef stir-fry is a flavorful and satisfying dish that combines tender beef, crunchy vegetables, and a spicy sauce. It's perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
Mango Coconut Chicken Curry: This mango coconut chicken curry is a delicious and aromatic dish that combines tender chicken, sweet mango, and creamy coconut milk. It's a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors.
Creamy Mushroom Risotto: This creamy mushroom risotto is a comforting and indulgent dish that combines tender Arborio rice, flavorful mushrooms, and rich Parmesan cheese. It's the ultimate comfort food for a cozy night in.
Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake: This lemon blueberry cheesecake is a decadent and tangy dessert that combines creamy cheesecake, zesty lemon, and sweet blueberries. It's the perfect dessert for any special occasion.

Appetizers and Desserts to Complement Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken

Appetizers:
Crispy Calamari: Delight your taste buds with a crispy and tender calamari appetizer, served with a zesty marinara dipping sauce.
Stuffed Mushrooms: Indulge in savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a rich blend of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs, and baked to perfection.
Desserts:
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and decadent flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Delight in a creamy and luscious strawberry cheesecake, featuring a buttery graham cracker crust and a vibrant strawberry topping. Each bite is a perfect balance of tangy and sweet flavors.

Why trust this Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken Recipe:

This Taiwanese-style Three Cup Chicken recipe is a classic dish that embodies the essence of Taiwanese cuisine. The combination of sesame oil, ginger, and garlic creates a rich and aromatic base, infusing the chicken with deep flavors. The addition of Thai basil and red chilies provides a perfect balance of freshness and heat. With a harmonious blend of soy sauce and dry sherry, this recipe promises an authentic and delightful dining experience. Trust in the tradition and authenticity of this recipe to elevate your culinary journey.

Want to share your experience making this classic Taiwanese-Style Three Cup Chicken dish or discuss variations on the recipe? Join the conversation in the Recipe Sharing forum.
FAQ:
What is three cup chicken?
Three cup chicken is a traditional Taiwanese dish made with chicken, sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine, cooked with ginger, garlic, and basil. It's named after the three key ingredients: soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine.
Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?
Yes, you can use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs. However, chicken thighs are preferred for this recipe as they are more flavorful and less likely to dry out during cooking.
Can I make this dish less spicy?
Absolutely! If you prefer a milder flavor, you can reduce the amount of red chilies or remove the seeds and membranes from the chilies before adding them to the dish.
What can I serve with three cup chicken?
Three cup chicken is traditionally served with steamed rice, but it also pairs well with noodles or stir-fried vegetables.
Can I use dried basil instead of fresh basil?
While fresh basil is preferred for its vibrant flavor, you can use dried basil if fresh basil is not available. However, use it sparingly, as dried basil is more potent than fresh basil.

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