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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Three Cup Chicken




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

Ingredients:
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

Directions:

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.







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20 comments:

Guru Uru said...

Mmmm my brother would love this chicken thank you :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

KMS said...

Just great chicken dish, I should try.

Foodycat said...

That sounds lovely! I must try it.

Rhodesia said...

This looks delicious and many of my favourite ingredients, will certainly try this recipe. Thanks. Keep well Diane

Debbie said...

This looks like a fairly simple dish but with great flavor. Pinned this one to try sometime soon!

Kim G. said...

This is a great weeknight recipe. I love asian meals and this one looks good!

Jenn said...

Oooohhh.. this looks amazing! I will be trying this one soon... another fantastic stir fry to add to my must try's!!

Natalie said...

wow--this sounds simple, but awesome! Love having chicken dishes like this!

Jenn @ You know... that Blog? said...

Sounds wonderful (although I'm allergic to ginger and would have to omit)!! I know what I'm having for dinner tonight!

Lorraine said...

This looks so good ~ a recipe I would love to make :)

Lois said...

I am So Hungry now. This is for sure happening tomorrow - or tonight! Just need some dry sherry or rice wine....

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I'm glad you posted the recipe as I hadn't heard of three cup chicken before. It sounds like it has lots of flavor.

Ginny said...

I have never heard of this but it does look so good!

David said...

Mary, This Three Cup Chicken looks great. Side it with a nice batch of brown rice and I'd be a happy camper! Thanks and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Susan Lindquist said...

This sounds just delicious, Mary! Thanks for the tip on sesame oil ... I never knew the difference ...

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I love the simplicity and the fact that it probably tastes more complex - or at least delightful! We can't have enough easy gems like this one. Great post!

teresa said...

oh those flavors are really speaking to me!

Jeannie Tay said...

That sounds yummy and simple, I wonder why I have not cooked this before...hmmm, going to pin this:D

Blond Duck said...

This sounds wonderful!

bellini said...

I have never heard of the dish but it does sound like something that would draw crowds.

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