30 April 2012

Three Cup Chicken Over Steamed Rice


Growing up, my mom cooked homemade meals from scratch for us every night. 

Both my parents were born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, and moved to America shortly after my sister and I were born. To make sure we stayed in touch with our roots, they raised us in a mini-Taiwan culture: We spoke Mandarin around the house, learned to read and write Traditional Chinese, and ate Taiwanese food year-round. 

My mom instilled in me a love of all Asian foods by cooking all her favorites night in and night out for over 18 years. I've come to realize that the food you eat as a child often guides the food you seek out as an adult. It's the very notion of comfort food: food that takes us back to our childhood and invokes memories from our past. 

Which leads me to this dish...


Three Cup Chicken has always been one of my favorites. The recipe is simple, and the 'three cup' title refers to the equal ratio of the three principal ingredients: sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice wine. For those of you who may be a little nervous about dabbling in Asian cuisine for the first (or second time), don't be - we're starting off easy, and any recipe that uses sesame oil (especially focally), almost guarantees success. 

For my everyday version, I tone down the sesame oil slightly to make it a little healthier. I don't think you'll miss it too much - sesame oil itself has a strong flavor, and a little goes a long, delicious way! Regardless, it's a win-win dish whether you decide to go traditional or healthier. 


From left to right:
Top: Sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine
Bottom: Green onions, ginger, garlic, basil



4 Servings

1/3 cup sesame oil (I use about 4 tablespoons)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch 
20 cloves garlic
10 ginger slices
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 large handfuls of fresh basil, loosely chopped
3 green onion stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups rice, cooked

1. Marinate chicken thighs with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon sesame oil (to tenderize the meat). Set aside for 5-10 minutes.

2. Heat large wok or dutch oven to high heat and add 3 tablespoons sesame oil. Once hot, add in garlic and ginger and stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. 

3. Add in chicken thighs and brown well, about 4 minutes. 

4. Stir in soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar to cover chicken. 

5. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium low. Let simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. 

6. Meanwhile, cook rice according to package instructions (I use a rice cooker, but stovetop works too). 

7. After the sauce has thickened in consistency, turn heat up to medium heat and add in basil and scallions. Cook until basil and scallions wilt, about 2 minutes.

8. Serve over white rice and enjoy!




For the women: An old Chinese wives' tale says that for every grain of rice you leave in your bowl, it'll be one wart on your face. 

For the men: An old Chinese wives' tale says that for every grain of rice you leave in your bowl, it'll be one wart on your future wife's face.



Moral of the tales? Clean out your bowl! 
(The above is not acceptable!)


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27 comments:

  1. I'm totally trying three cup chicken this week. I have everything on hand, and I'm always really eager to try traditional Asian dishes.

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    1. Let me know! I have an arsenal of Asian dishes I can share...

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  2. This looks good and easy! I'm going to try this for sure! Patricia

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    1. I know, I love easy dishes you can't mess up!

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  3. This dish is instant comfort food, whether you grew up with this type of food or not. On my Mt. Rushmore of home-cooked meals.

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    1. Wait till you try the 'authentic' version... ;)

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  4. Vicky~, you are amazing !!

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    1. Thanks, Jessie...I'm wearing the pink scissor earrings you got me...love them! Hope you're enjoying that Celine bag...I'm sooo jealous!

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  5. omggggg i remember when you used to make this at 717 (that is, the OG 717 ;) and i miss it so much.. was definitely wayyyy better than the soy sauce w/ white rice i used to eat..

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    1. Hahaha you were a big fan of soy sauce + white rice! But look how far you've come since then!

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  6. I made this tonight! It turned out so delicious! patricia

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  7. This sounds amazing! Can't wait to try it. Love the wive's tales at the bottom!

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    1. I hope you do...it's one of my favs!

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  8. Made this tonight. It was awesome!! Tasted so good and it was so easy. Thank you for sharing!!

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    1. So glad you liked it and it turned out so good!

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  9. Your basil looks like mint... am I going crazy?

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    1. Hahaha you spotted my secret! I had a little extra mint so I threw that in there in addition to the basil...waste not, want not! Great eye!!

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  10. That look delicious! Definitely going to make it this weekend.

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  11. I am glad that you have stayed in touch with your culture and your roots. I am glad you can share to us your wonderful cuisine. Thanks!

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  12. This looks absolutely wonderful - I've had this dish many times but have never tried it out before. Thanks for the easy to understand instructions!

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  13. Omg, I made this for my VERY PICKY family last week & they LOVED it!!!! I'm making it again for dinner tomorrow!! Thank you so much!!! :)

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    1. Soo happy to hear! It's a great staple :)

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  14. I have made this twice and it doesn't look so reddish like your I wonder why? I have used same brand of rice wine soy sauce and sesame oil. It's very good though!

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    1. Hmm...I wouldn't say mine has a red tint to it...may just be the lighting in the photos. I brown the garlic pretty well...that could contribute to it, although I would describe the sauce as a medium dark brown. Glad to know it turned out well though, that's the most important part!

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  15. Did you cut up the garlic cloves...can't wait to try

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  16. couldn't find rice cooking wine so I bought rice vinegar..hope it turns out okay

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  17. Unbelievably delicious! Tried this tonight and it was a HUGE hit. Not only was the finished product delicious, but it was one of the easiest recipes I have ever made (and I'm a complete cooking novice... I actually had to ask my husband how to properly make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich the other day). I can't wait to explore the rest of your blog -- and please post more easy to make Asian recipes.

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