Three Cup Chicken (三杯雞, sānbēijī)

Most modern Three Cup Chicken recipes don’t contain the namesake quantity of soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil as the result would be too oily and heavy. Even so remember to fire up the rice cooker as this is not a dainty dish.

Thanks to Amanda Lao for the original recipe!


  • 6 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in. Cut around bone and slice the meat into ~2″ chunks.
  • 2-3 inch ginger root, sliced into coins
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 6 whole scallions, trimmed and cut into 1” lengths
  • 3 oz (approx 3-4 cups loosely packed) fresh Thai basil (regular basil is OK if you can’t find the Thai variety), rough chop if necessary
  • 2-3 dried red chili peppers, or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
    • Any sesame oil from an Asian market will be toasted and golden-brown to near black. Non-toasted oils are very light in color.
  • 2/3 cup rice wine or Shaoxing wine (not mirin, which is sweetened)
  • 1/3 cup light soy sauce (we like Kimlan)
  • 1/2 tablespoon unrefined brown sugar


  • Large flat-bottomed skillet or wok
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Measuring cups and storage bowls

0) Prepare ingredients as listed, once the cooking starts things are combined quickly.


1) Heat large flat-bottomed skillet or wok over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add sesame oil, ginger coins, and chili peppers. Stir quickly, ginger should start to brown very shortly.


2) When ginger is very lightly browned, add chicken (including bones). Adjust heat and stir ingredients around as necessary to prevent burning. Cook for ~5 minutes until chicken begins to brown.


3) Add garlic and scallions


4) Add all liquids and brown sugar


5) Stir to mix well, turn heat up, and continue stirring until liquids start to bubble around the edges.


6) Once bubbling, reduce heat and cook covered for about 12 minutes, occasionally stirring.


7) Add water, if necessary, throughout the cooking process to loosen the sauce to desired consistency.


8) Once chicken is cooked, stir in basil.


9) Remove from heat, and serve over white rice or your favorite carb.


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