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Taiwanese Three-Cup Chicken


Taiwanese Three-Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji) is a tender chicken dish made using rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil. It’s an unpretentious, traditional favourite that’s perfect for restaurant-style cooking as well as more homely meals.


Units Scale
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into (approx. 12) thin strips
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 whole scallions, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 dried red peppers (or 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes)
  • 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves


  1. Heat a wok or a deep pan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Once the oil reaches shimmering point (where it looks slightly wavy and moves around a little), add in the ginger, garlic, scallions and red peppers; cook until fragrant.
  2. Move the ingredients to the side of your pan, add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and allow it a little time to reach temperature.
  3. Add the chopped chicken; cook, stirring occasionally, until it has browned and started to develop a crisp edge. Stir in the brown sugar.
  4. Add the rice wine and soy sauce, and bring to a boil before lowering the heat to low-medium, allowing the sauce to simmer until it has reduced and begun to thicken. Approximately 15 minutes (depending on the heat).
  5. Turn off the heat, and stir in the fresh basil. Serve to your family, loved ones, and bestest of friends only!


  • Do not use toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil is more of a fancy dressing (similar to high quality olive oil, or balsamic vinegar) – it’s not meant for cooking with.
  • If bone-in chicken isn’t available to you, or you just prefer your meals boneless, you can swap it out for the same amount of boneless chicken. Note that boneless is ever so slightly less flavourful.
  • If you don’t have access to rice wine (or if alcohol is not your thing, there are non-alcoholic versions available), you can mix equal parts of white grape juice with lemon juice for a similar effect.
  • If Thai basil leaves are difficult for you to obtain, it’s okay to use regular basil leaves. But Thai basil is available at many large supermarkets, and at most Asian markets.
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Taiwanese

Keywords: taiwanese three-cup chicken, chinese three-cup chicken, 3-cup chicken, asian chicken recipe

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