From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is but one of many versions of a Taiwanese dish called Three Cup Chicken. It gets its name from the ratio of the three main ingredients used to make it. The chicken is always made with equal portions of soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. I have several recipes for the dish in my files, but I rely on this one because it is so fast and easy to prepare. While it lacks the gorgeous color of the more classic braises, it delivers a wonderfully flavorful and unpretentious meal with a fragrance that draws people to the table. Cooking lore tells us the dish was first cooked for an official before his execution. It was made by a prison warden who had limited resources and he made the sauce for that dish using three wine cups, intended for worship, to measure the ingredients. Today, recipes use various measures of the basic three ingredients, but they must always be equal to each other for the dish to be called three-cup. I relied heavily on this dish when I was working and it would appear on my table once or twice a month. While it is best made with thigh meat, the breast can also be used if you cut back on the cooking time. I always serve this dish with steamed rice and just-wilted spinach. My family enjoys this dish and I think yours will too. Here is how Three Cup Chicken is made.
Three Cup Chicken...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Ching-He Huang
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into thin coins
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup light soy
1/4 cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil (see Cook's Note)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 small handful Thai basil leaves, or Italian basil, plus extra for garnish
1) Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat. When it is hot add vegetable oil and cook until oil smokes. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry quickly for a few seconds. Quickly add chicken and let it sit in pan for 30 seconds before stir-frying until it browns, about 2 to 3 minutes.
2) Add soy sauce, rice wine and toasted sesame oil, Reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 minutes. Stir well and add brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is reduced to a thick, sticky consistency and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in basil leaves and allow them to wilt slightly. Serve immediately. Yield: 2 to 4 servings.
Cook's Note: It's important to use toasted sesame oil, which reduces as it cooks, and not pure sesame oil, which will continue to cook and not reduce or thicken. The final dish should be slightly sticky.
One Year Ago Today: Milk Chocolate and Caramel Mousse Pie
Two Years Ago Today: Maine Shrimp Chowder
Three Years Ago Today: Baked Portobello Parmesan - A Dieter's Delight