[Recipe] Three Cup Chicken / Sanbeiji (三杯雞)

Three cup chicken or sanbeiji (三杯雞) is a classic Taiwanese dish you can often see in bento places, stir-fry restaurants and Taiwanese beer houses. It’s a dish that complements rice as well as beer.

Three cup chicken originates from the Jiangxi province of southern China. The dish derives its name from the three cups of ingredients required — a cup of jiuniang (sweet rice wine), a cup of pig oil and a cup of soy sauce. Nowadays, rice cooking wine replaced jiuniang, while sesame oil replaced pig oil. Depending on the servings made, the amount of the “three cups” may also be altered in the recipe.

Ingredients (4 servings)

1. 2 Chicken Thighs (preferably with skin)

2. 6-8 cloves of garlic

3. 6-8 slices ginger

4. 2 whole scallions

5. A handful of basil leaves

6. 2 tbsp sesame oil

7. ½ cup Rice cooking wine

8. 2 tbsp soy sauce

9. 1 tbsp rock sugar or 1 tsp regular sugar

optional: 1 red chili pepper


1. Prepare the ingredients: Cut around 8-10 slices of ginger, chop the garlic into slices, and cut the scallions into 1-inch pieces, then set aside. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan, sauté ginger, garlic, and the white part of the scallion till fragrant.

3. Put the chicken into a frying pan with the chicken skin facing down. Pan-fry until both sides of the chicken turned brown.

4. Add the rock sugar into the pan and stir-fry till caramelized. Add soy sauce and rice cooking wine little by little, then keep stir-fry it. Cover the pan with a lid on low heat and steam till the chicken is fully cooked.

5. By now the sauce should be reduced and absorbed by the chicken, add the Thai basil & the green part of the scallion (and the chopped red chili pepper if desired) into the pan. Stir to mix.

6. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy!

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