Taiwanese food is coming in hot in a big way. From boba, to beef noodles, to braised pork with rice, Taiwanese food is starting to get its day in the sun. Suddenly the Shilin Night Market in Taipei is on every food obsessed person’s to visit list and giant crispy chicken cutlets shops are popping up on the coasts. I happen to love all Taiwanese food, but homestyle Taiwanese holds a special place in my heart.
Perhaps one of the most classic and well known Taiwanese dishes is san bei ji, or three cup chicken. The three cups refers to equal parts soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine, but there must be a million variations. Everyone’s mom makes it differently and it’s served in plenty of restaurants too, so there’s a three cup chicken out there for everyone.
If you’re looking for a new weeknight chicken recipe, this is it. Savory and addictive with a sauce that begs to be eaten with rice, three cup chicken is fast, easy, and absolutely delicious.
Most recipes use cut up bone in chicken pieces but as a nod to my mum, I went with chicken wings, which was how she made our family’s three cup chicken when I was growing up. Essentially it’s chicken braised in a sticky, savory, balanced dark sauce that’s sweet, savory, and comforting.
It takes a lot of commitment to peel a whole head of garlic, but it’s worth it! Keep it simple by using the flat side of a heavy knife to crushing the garlic cloves. The skins will come right off.
For the ginger, technically you don’t need to peel it if you’re in a hurry, just give it a good wash. If you’re going to peel it, use a small spoon to scrape off the thin skin. It’s way easier than using a knife.
The chili isn’t totally necessary if you don’t have one on hand – you can add a whole dried chili in, some chili pepper flakes, or even keep it chili free.
Shaoxing wine will add that signature taste and mouthfeel but if you don’t have any, use sake!
The dark soy sauce is what give the dish that beautiful burnished brown caramel color – if you don’t have any, it’s totally optional, but it adds a hint of depth and of course makes everything pretty. It’s worthwhile to invest in a bottle of dark soy, it’s cheap and you can use it a lot in Chinese cooking.
What do you need:
Keep it simple and use a non-stick skillet, preferably the biggest one you have that has a lid. If you have a wok, you can use that too.
How do you serve it?
Serve it with fluffy white rice and a simple green vegetable.
San Bei Ji: 15 Minute Easy Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken Recipe
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 head garlic, peeled
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 1 Thai chili, seeds removed if preferred
- 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, optional
- 1 pound chicken wings
- Thai basil, optional
In a large skillet or wok, heat up the sesame oil, ginger, and chili over low heat, infusing the oil with the aromatics.
Stir in the shaoxing, soy sauce, sugar, chicken wings, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil, then partially cover with a lid, and simmer on low for 15 minutes or until cooked through.
Stir in the basil leaves, if using, and serve hot with fluffy white rice.