Three-Cup Chicken

Kian Lam Kho

Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking

This traditional Taiwanese dish, made with chicken in a soy sauce braising liquid, gets its name from the original recipe, which calls for cooking the chicken in one cup each of soy sauce, cooking wine, and toasted sesame oil. Thai basil added at the end gives this dish a distinctly local flavor that has become a hallmark of Taiwanese cuisine. Use dark meat on the bone for best results.

Adapted from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees: Essential Techniques of Authentic Chinese Cooking (Clarkson Potter, 2015)


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs or legs, each thigh and leg cut into 2 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white rice wine, divided
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 medium bunch (2 ounces) Thai basil leaves


Place the chicken pieces in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Bring the water slowly to a simmer, skimming off any scum that forms on the surface. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the chicken and discard the water.

Heat a wok over high heat until a droplet of water sizzles and evaporates immediately upon contact. Swirl the vegetable oil around the bottom and sides of the wok to coat it evenly. Add the ginger to the wok and stir-fry until it is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons of the rice wine, and 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce. Continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes, or until the chicken is browned.

Transfer the chicken to a clay pot and add the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce, the remaining 1/4 cup of rice wine, and the sesame oil. Cover the pot and simmer the chicken on medium heat for 30 minutes, until it is tender and the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce.

Just before serving, stir in the basil leaves.


2 servings