three cup chicken


...three cup chicken...

My original intent when first conceptualizing this blog was primarily to document the dishes that have some sort of deep impact on my life.   Naturally this meant posting a lot about dishes that both my brother and I grew up on and the flavors and experiences that my parents created.  Over the last year, I’ve been able to really figure out a process for creating these posts.  Usually it starts with a craving, a specific ingredient, or just a moment in life that I remember, and then I go searching and experimenting.  If it’s a new dish, I have to cook it a couple of times to get it right and if it is a family dish I call my Mom or Dad.  My parents usually gave me the process of how to cook it and then I have to measure it out for you all, but this time my Mom decided to help me out and create the recipe for me.  Which then means an awesome recipe from my mom that requires some translation.

The following is the recipe for one of my favorite dishes that my mom makes.  It’s a braised chicken dish that I frequently requested from my mom when growing up.  It wasn’t really for the actual chicken, although delicious, it was more for the amazing sauce.  It’s one of those amazing things like chicken adobo; it’s so complex in flavor but simple in ingredients.  I can definitely pin point it to the use of basil, ginger, and garlic.  Anytime you use those flavors, you know the outcome is going to be amazing.  When I was little I would be excited just for the sauce.  Before my brother would even get to the dish, I would fish out all the basil  from the sauce and horde it all for myself.  No shame.

The name of the dish, 3 Cup Chicken, comes from the origins of the recipe.  It involved 1 cup of oil, 1 cup of soy sauce, and 1 cup of cooking wine, hence the three cups.  Now, that was made during the time of clay stone pots, wood fire type stoves, and lack of knowledge of what sodium and oil overload will do to a body.  So, my mom changed up the proportions a little, and for the good of our cholesterol.

The format of the recipe is different from how I usually do my posts, but that’s because I’m attaching my mom’s recipe as she sent it to me.  I had to make some changes and additions to make it easier for folks who don’t read “Mom”.  I’ve pasted that below the recipe.

Please pay close attention to step 5 and 6.  They are very important

Three Cup Chicken:

  • 1  whole  chicken
  • 10-15 colves  Garlic.  Peeled but don’t slightly
  • same amont of ginger as Galic. Slices.
  • ½  cup of  black sesame oil. (胡麻油)   The company from Taiwan call 新東揚 are the best
  • ¾  cup soy  sauce
  • 1 cup Taiwan rice cooking wine 公賣局的 米洒
  • ½  cup brown  sugar
  • Basil  ( vintnam`styly)

1.     Heat the sesame oil in pan, than add garlic ,ginger stir fry till fragrant. Make sure the ginger are turn dry

2.     Add chicken and stir fly with 1, till the surface are no longer pink

3.     Put brown sugar,soy sauce stir fly ,than  cooking wine, stir evenly, cover and turn down the heat to low.( about 30 minutes)  until the sauce is reduced and thickened

4.     Turn heat back up to high and add basil cook for another  5-10 minutes.

5.      Good Luck.

6.                                                                                     Love Mom


10 slightly smashed garlic cloves

9 coins, fresh ginger

1/2 cup dark sesame oil (see Mom’s note above)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large chicken, broken down

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup cooking rice wine (see Mom’s note above)

1 bunch of Vietnamese basil

luck and Mom’s love (optional)


fry garlic and ginger in sesame and vegetable oil on high in a large pot until ginger is slightly toasted

add chicken and fry until no longer pink

pour soy sauce, sugar, and wine into pot and turn down heat to medium low, stirring occasionally until sauce is reduced [about 30 minutes]

add basil and cook for at least five minutes on high

add luck and mom’s love.

-serves 6-8-


2 Responses to “three cup chicken”

  1. 1 Helena
    January 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I *LOVE* 三杯鸡! Memories…!

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