Easy 3-Cup Chicken Recipe

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san bei ji recipe

3 Cup Chicken is a dish that works perfectly with a bowl of white rice. It’s savoury, aromatic, appetising and has a kick of spice to it.

A cool thing about this dish is it’s origin story. 3 cup chicken dates back over 1000 years old! Which is incredible to think people were eating such amazing food eventhough basic plumbing was probably non-existent. 

The story goes, a national-hero and war prisoner being held in Jiangxi, China – was given this dish before his execution. Being a national hero among the people, the prison guard thought to make something special for his last meal, but only had limited ingredients and so 3 cup chicken was created. 

Chicken cooked in a combination of 3 different sauces slowly. 

I learnt how to make this recently and loved it so much I ended up simplifying it further so I could have it more often! This version of 3-cup chicken might not be the most authentic, but its still equally delicious. 

The original uses a claypot to fry the chicken before braising and is cooked on low heat until the sauce is reduced. My version uses a frying pan, takes about 15 minutes and the chicken has less of a crisp exterior BUT  still really delicious. It’s just a more convenient version 🙂

Easy 3 Cup Chicken

3 cup chicken recipe


Serves 1 – 2

600g of bite sized chicken parts with bone
1 cup Soy sauce
1 cup rice wine
1 cup sesame oil
40ml of water
1 tablespoon of chili flakes
A knob of ginger (1 thumb size)
3 -4 large cloves of garlic 
A few sprigs of Thai basil 


1. First prep your ingredients by mixing 1 cup of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine together. Add in 1 tablespoon of sugar and chilli flakes. You can also use fresh chilli for a stronger kick. 

2. Then peel your garlic cloves and ginger. Slice your ginger in to thin slices. (About 0.5cm so it’s thin enough to cook but not burn too easily) 

3. Then place your garlic cloves in and about 1 table spoon of cooking oil. Reduce to medium heat and keep the garlic and ginger moving until golden brown. 

4. Then place your chicken in and let it cook slightly before pouring in your sauce mix. Let the whole thing reduce on high heat while occasionally stirring. 

5. Add in your Thai basil once the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce has reduced to a thicker and stickier consistency. Let it cook for a minute before plating!

Janice Fung

Janice Fung

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