Three Cup Chicken

September  5, 2016
3 Ratings
Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • Serves 3 to 4
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Samantha W R
    Samantha W R
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
  • mwer
  • Lisa
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.

7 Reviews

Samantha W. January 4, 2018
Question for you: if you are using boneless chicken thighs, how long does that take to cook? Thanks.
Alexandra S. January 4, 2018
Hi! I would skip the first step altogether, and then reduce the final cooking maybe by 5 min or so — thighs are so forgiving, so I wouldn't worry too much.
Samantha W. January 4, 2018
mwer April 7, 2017
I love a recipe that my entire family enjoys, and this was one of them. Thank you, the chickens was tender and delicious.
Alexandra S. April 7, 2017
So happy to hear this!
Lisa January 19, 2017
I have never eaten the famous San Bei chicken from Taiwan. But this recipe from Alexandra is again simple and easy to make, requiring few ingredients. It came together beautifully. It is fragrant, flavorful. Served with rice, delicious. I save the broth from boiling chicken and made simple soup by throwing in some mushroom, whisked egg and topped with cilantro and white pepper. A nice family dinner came together in no time. I will make it again and again
Alexandra S. January 19, 2017
Wow, I love it! What a great use of the broth — that soup sounds simple and delicious. So happy this one turned out well. Thanks for writing in!