Three Cup Chicken

September  5, 2016
2 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
Author Notes

From Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, a beautiful cookbook and great source for Chinese cooking.

Bone-in, skin-on dark meat is best here in terms of providing flavor, but boneless, skinless dark meat also works as does whole drumsticks (if you're not up for cutting through bones).

If you can't find white rice wine or Shaoxing cooking wine, dry sherry is a good substitute. I made this once with mirin, which is sweetened rice wine, and I found the sugars caramelized a little too much.

Using a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed lidded pot during the stir-fry step (3) will save you from having to clean an extra pan. —Alexandra Stafford

  • Serves 3 to 4
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or legs, each cut into 2 or 3 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • 6 thin slices peeled ginger
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white rice wine, Shoaxing cooking wine, or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil (untoasted is fine, too)
  • Leaves from 1 medium bunch Thai basil (or standard basil), 2 ounces
In This Recipe
  1. Put the chicken pieces in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover the meat completely. Bring the water slowly to a simmer, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the chicken and discard the water.
  2. Meanwhile, get organized—this may feel unnecessary, but the stir-frying happens so quickly, and I find it super helpful to measure the liquids ahead of time. Here's the breakdown: 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1/4 cup rice wine, 2 tablespoons rice wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/4 cup sesame oil.
  3. Heat a wok or large heavy-bottomed pot with a cover over high heat until a droplet of water sizzles and evaporates immediately upon contact. Swirl the vegetable oil around the bottom and sides of the wok to coat it evenly. Add the ginger to the wok and stir-fry until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add the 2 tablespoons of rice wine or sherry and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes (or less) or until the chicken is browned.
  4. If you are using a wok, transfer the chicken to a clay pot or Dutch oven with cover. If you are using the heavy-bottomed pot, leave the chicken in it. Add the remaining 1/4 cup rice wine or sherry, the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and the sesame oil. Cover the pot and simmer the chicken over medium to medium-low heat for 30 minutes, until it is tender and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce.
  5. Just before serving, stir in the basil leaves.

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I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.