Three Cup Chicken
by Liv

Three Cup Chicken

three cup chicken

From the first time I heard about three cup chicken I thought it was a Taiwanese dish, but after doing some research I discovered it’s actually a Chinese dish.

Wen Tiansiang was the Duke of Xinguo and famous in Chinese history for his loyalty to the Song Dynasty. He refused Khubilai Khan’s demand for the Song forces to surrender to the Khan invasion, so he suffered for 4 years in a military prison before his execution. He wrote a lot of good poems in the prison and one of his famous quotations is “None since the advent of time have escaped death, may my loyalty forever illuminate the annuals of history.”

This three cup chicken was cooked by a kind prison warden who was also from Jiangxi Province (Wen Tiansiang’s home town is Jiangxi.). He made this dish with limited ingredients; one cup of sweet rice wine, one cup soy sauce and one cup of lard to stew the chicken for Wen Tiansiang before his execution.

In Taiwan, three cup chicken has evolved into one cup of rice wine, one cup of soy sauce and one cup of dark sesame oil. The smell and the taste of this three cup chicken is just divine. In Taiwan, especially the area around Yangming mountain (Yangmingshan) has a lot of hot spring B&B and restaurants. The guests can use hot spring first and then have meal in the restaurant after. One of the more popular dishes is this three cup chicken.

Procedures:

  1. Heat up wok with dark sesame oil and fry the ginger until the ginger dry up.
  2. Add chicken legs to stir fry it until the chicken meat turn into white colour.
  3. Add garlic, chilli and all the seasonings and cover the wok to simmer the chicken for 15~20 minutes until the sauce is dry out.
  4. Add basil to stir fry it before place the chicken into plate to serve.

 

Three Cup Chicken

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs including thighs, de-bone
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 6 slices ginger thin
  • 1 chili
  • 1 basil just a handful

Seasonings

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice wine
  • 1/2 cup dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Heat up wok with dark sesame oil and fry the ginger until the ginger dry up.
  2. Add chicken legs to stir fry it until the chicken meat turn into white colour.
  3. Add garlic, chilli and all the seasonings and cover the wok to simmer the chicken for 15~20 minutes until the sauce has dried out.
  4. Add basil to stir fry it before place the chicken into plate to serve.

By Liv

Illustrator by day, home chef at night. I worked as a professional chef for many years but now I draw for a living. I now cook just for the love of cooking. The recipes on this website are all influenced by things I have eaten in different locations around the world.

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44 Comments

  1. Lisa

    I must make this dish! I love three cup chicken. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Lisa, definitely have a go at making this dish if you can. It’s very easy but very tasty.

      Reply
  2. Magic of Spice

    What a stunning presentation, and the photos are gorgeous! Oh, and the food is great too:)

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi, thank you for your kind comment. Chris said a big thank you as well. Three cup chicken is one of my all time favourite dishes

      Reply
  3. Nancy aka Spicie Foodie

    Hi Liv,
    I’ve never had this dish but sounds very tasty. As always I enjoy the history behind the dish. I wonder if I could find dark sesame oil, hmm will have to go hunting.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Nancy, thanks for your comment. This dish is very tasty but most Chinese supermarkets sell sesame oil.

      Reply
  4. Island Vittles

    A simple recipe that sounds delicious! Interesting history lesson too…

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi, thank you for your comment

      Reply
  5. Chef Dennis

    Hi Liv
    what a great dish, with all that garlic and seasonings….it must be so flavorful! Thanks for the history of the dish too!!
    Hope everything is well in your world!
    Dennis

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Dennis, thanks for your comment. Three cup chicken is a very tasteful cheap but it’s also very tasty. I was quite shocked when I learnt it was cooked for someone on death row.
      Hope you are well.
      Liv

      Reply
  6. Roti n Rice

    Looks and sounds delicious! Can’t go wrong with rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

    Reply
    • admin

      Yes! That’s how I think too. Can’t go wrong with rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil 😉

      Reply
  7. Jean

    It’s so wonderful to learn about these dishes from you, especially accompanied by a history lesson. I so enjoy them! 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Jean, thank you for your kind comments. I’ve really enjoyed looking into the history of each dish while writing this blog. Some of the stories are interesting, some are funny, some are slightly shocking but all are good.

      Reply
    • admin

      Hi Lynn, many thanks for your comment. My husband says a big “thank you” about the photos.

      Reply
  8. Emily

    Hello Liv,

    I’ve always thought it is a Taiwanese dish as well, mainly because I came to know about it through the Taiwanese cooking shows. So 九層塔 means basil right? It looks different on TV as compared to the basil that I’m accustomed to.
    Your dish looks delicious – love anything with lots of garlic!

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Emily,
      Basil is the same as 九層塔. But asian basil looks and taste a bit different compared to western basil. I prefer the taste of asian basil but I only have western basil here.

      Reply
  9. Joy

    I have seen this dish before. I don’t remember where but it looks great. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Joy, thank you for your comment 🙂

      Reply
  10. Tanantha@ I Just Love My Apron

    i agree you can’t go wrong with those 3 main ingredients! Sesame oil smells wonderful. I can imagine how good the dish is!

    Reply
    • admin

      3 ingredients is sometimes all you need. I really love sesame oil, it smells great and has a unique taste.

      Reply
  11. Judy

    What an interesting story behind this dish! I love the simple 3 ingredients and would like to try this some day… in addition to so many of your other dishes! 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Judy, thanks for your kind comment. I hope you have fun making this dish but I also really love the recipes on your blog. Chris is bugging me to make him tofu steak with mushroom sauce, looks very very tasty!

      Reply
  12. Lisa

    I’m making this tonight Liv! And looking to post it on my blog! Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
    • admin

      Good look making it, it’s very tasty 🙂

      Reply
  13. Lisa

    I had a question. Your recipe does not indicate heat temperature? I know sesame oil burns in high heat? I’ll play with it.

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi, just use sesame oil in the same way you would use vegetable. Just heat up your wok first then put the sesame oil in and turn the temperature to low heat and then slowly fry the ginger slices. Because I use gas there isn’t an exact temperature, just low, medium, high and of course off. For low you can guess around quarter heat.

      Reply
  14. Lisa

    Thanks Liv, It came out fabulous! I linked your webpage within my blog post. I sliced my garlic and I didn’t have a handful of basil and I know basil is so key. But still it was really delicious. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • admin

      Hello Lisa,
      Thank you very much for trying one of my recipes. I’m so happy that you like it and your three cup chicken turned out great!!

      Reply
    • admin

      Hello Ivy,
      Many thanks for your lovely comment. I hope you will have fun cooking this dish with my recipe and hope everything goes well.

      Reply
  15. Jiniffy

    wow~~im a Taiwanese
    See you do a lot about Taiwanese snacks n food
    That’s cool
    Also done very tasty

    look delicious~~~~!!perfect~~~~^^

    Reply
    • admin

      Hello Jiniffy,
      我也是台灣人呢!!:D 
      謝謝妳的讚美,讓能台灣人說我的台灣小吃做的好真讓我覺得超級無敵驕傲的呢!:)
      希望妳能常常回來看看我的部落格喲~~

      Reply
  16. Sara

    As usual something yummy that I will actually cook. Thanks as always 🙂

    Reply
    • admin

      Hi Sara,
      Many thanks for your lovely comment. Have a nice day! 😉

      Reply
  17. mbt shoes

    very good information you write it very clean. I’m very lucky to get

    this info from you.

    Reply
    • admin

      You’re welcome.
      Many thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  18. Jiniffy

    我也好開心你是台灣人~~^^
    台灣的食物時再是太好吃了
    尤其是你還做的這麼秀色可餐
    我好扒飯啊~~XDDD

    Reply
    • admin

      謝謝Jiniffy的讚美囉!!
      就如妳所說的台灣的食物真是太太太好吃啦!害我在國外天天都在想台灣的食物呢,可是在英國完全吃不到所以只好自己動手做囉!

      Reply
  19. JC

    I am so glad to stumble upon your website. I love San Pei Chicken and would love to learn how to cook it!

    I am still searching for a delicious recipe of Beef Stew for beef noodle. Have tasted some yummylicious beef noodle in Taiwanese restaurant. But I have yet to make my own.

    Reply

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