Three cups chicken is a Taiwanese recipe. It is a juicy chicken dish coated with flavourful syrup. The original “three cups” are one cup of soy sauce, one cup of cooking wine and one cup of sesame oil. Those are the only liquids going in, so the chicken is cooked without any additional water. However, no matter how small those “cups” are, the old recipe doesn’t sound so healthy to me. Nowadays, the recipe is changed gradually, but the point of water-less cooking remains.
In my version, I reduce the amount of soy sauce and sesame oil to limit the salt and oil intake. Also, I add sesame oil towards the end. In this way, the sesame oil will give a nice aroma rather than burnt bitterness. The second tip is using chicken thigh with skin on. The skin will make the meat softer and release some extra juice to help cooking. The third secret is in cutting. All the vegetable ingredients should be cut in bigger size. The sugar, wine and oil mixture will provide a high temperature. If you cut the veggies too small, they will end up melting in the syrup. Then comes the wine. Cooking wine is a lightly seasoned rice wine in the Chinese cuisine. If you happen to have a bottle a sake around, you can use it as an alternative! There won’t be a huge difference, especially for the a that is already nicely seasoned like this one. But I do recommend to add a splash of whiskey or rum in the end. It will bring back the bouquet lost during heating. Last but not least, don’t forget a generous amount of basil. Basil, in my opinion, is the soul of this recipe. It doesn’t matter so much if you use lemon basil or Thai basil. Different basil gives slightly different taste, but they are all wonderful. Pick up one based on your preference. It will refresh the whole dish and elevate the aroma into another level. The moment you put the basil in, you will understand what I mean!
Three cups chicken
- April 30, 2018
- 1 hr
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- 600 g boneless chicken thigh, cut into bite sized pieces
- 8 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 5 green onions, cut in 3cm long pieces
- 15 g ginger, sliced 2 mm thick
- 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
- 1 handful basil leaves
- a pinch of salt and pepper
- 1-2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rock sugar
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 100ml cooking wine/ sake
- 1 tsp whiskey/ rum (optional)
- Step 1
- After washing, properly dry the chicken meat. Massage the chicken with salt and pepper. Season it for 10 minutes.
- Step 2
- Heat the pan with cooking oil (high heat). Fry the ginger slices first until it gets a bit coloured. Then add in the red chili, garlic and green onion. Fry until aromatic.
- Step 3
- Add the rock sugar and stir it continuously. When the sugar has mostly melted, add in the chicken and stir roughly.
- Step 4
- Add in both of the soy sauces and stir quickly to make sure the chicken is evenly coated with syrup.
- Step 5
- Pour in the cooking wine and cover the pan. Turn the heat to medium to low. Stew it for 10 minutes.
- Step 6
- When the liquid is strongly reduced, put in sesame oil and whiskey/ rum. Minimise the heat and let it simmer for another minute.
- Step 7
- Remove the pan from heat. Add in the basil leaves. Stir a bit to soften the leaves.