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Three Cups Chicken

This is day 1 of Day 7 Kitchen, and I’m celebrating the birth of this blog with one of my favorite chicken dishes – 三杯鸡, translated as 3-cups chicken. This is a traditional Taiwanese dish that has been familiar to me since childhood.

Even in my family of Chinese mainlanders, the “3 cups” flavor carries a distinct place of dignity and authority. Traditionally, 3 cups mean 1 cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of sesame oil and 1 cup of rice wine. It’s a marriage between the perfectly savory, mouth-watering greasiness of sesame oil with the tender, pull-apart chicken drumstick meat. The sauce is a plus when topped on rice and is to-die for if mixed into some stir-fry noodles! Interestingly, the key ingredient to the 3 cups trademark flavor is basil, and I’m not talking about the dry seasoning bits you buy in a jar. You need, yes I repeat, you absolutely need fresh basil leaves to complete this dish. Now without further adieu, I introduce to you the star of the show (and newborn post of this blog)- Three Cups Chicken.

Three Cups Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: difficult
  • Print


  • chicken drumstick, 4
  • green onions, chopped
  • ginger, sliced
  • dry chili peppers, chopped roughly
  • garlic, 5, minced
  • soy sauce, 1 cup
  • rice wine, 1 cup
  • sesame oil, 3/4 cup
  • basil leaf, 5-10 pieces
  • brown sugar, 2 Tsp

Boil drumsticks with green onions for 2 minutes, and strip away the meat from the bone (should come off using just hands). Chop the meat roughly into chunks.

Heat up sesame oil on the stove and add minced garlic, the rest of green onions and ginger. Stir fry until fragrant. Add chicken to the wok, then add soy sauce, rice wine and brown sugar. Heat on high until boiled, then switch to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add chili peppers at any point. If desire a less spicy taste, you can add it later rather than early on.

Periodically stir the chicken, add basil leaf and turn off the stove immediately. Mix and you are done! Enjoy over rice.



  1. Anonymous

    I have been thinking it means you have to drink three cups of baijiu in order to make this dish…


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