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Saturday, June 05, 2010

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken)

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken) 1

Sanbeiji (Chinese 3-Cup Chicken) is a braised chicken recipe that uses equal portions of soy sauce, sesame oil, and Chinese rice wine. Not quite one cup of each though, unless you're making a very large pot.

According to Wikipedia, the dish originated in Jiangxi province in southern China, but has become popular in Taiwanese restaurants, which is where I've encountered it. The chicken is quickly browned on high heat and then simmered on low heat until the sauce is reduced. Ginger and basil round out the flavors of the three cups of sauces. I added some shiitake mushrooms too since they stand well to a long braise and will absorb the sauce.

I used my Chinese Clay Pot to cook the three cup chicken, but any heavy pan, such as a dutch oven, will do.

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken) 2

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken)

For a 2-quart pot, about 4 servings as a side dish, you'll need:

2 boneless chicken thighs or 2 breasts, about 1 lb's worth, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 large shiitake mushrooms, cut in half
2 scallions, cut into 2-inch segments
2-inch knob ginger, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 cloves of garlic
3 Thai basil sprigs
2 tsps sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup Hsiao Xing Chinese rice wine

Cut the boneless chicken thighs or breasts into roughly 2-inch pieces. If you're using dried shiitake mushrooms, make sure you soak them first. Cut the mushrooms in half. Slice 2 scallions into 2-inch segments. Cut a 2-inch knob of ginger into 1/4-inch slices. Peel 2 cloves of garlic. And wash 3 Thai basil sprigs. Add everything into the pot.

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken) 3

Then add 2 tsp sugar, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sesame oil, and 1/4 cup Chinese hsiao xing rice wine. You may substitute with cooking sherry if you can't find the rice wine. Turn the heat to high, stir the pot, and let the chicken simmer for about 10 minutes. The chicken and mushrooms will release a lot of liquid, but that will eventually reduce.

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken) 4

Then, with the pot still uncovered, reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce is reduced. If you're free to monitor the pot closely, let the sauce reduce until it's almost completely gone, until the chicken starts crisping.

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken) 5

I actually ended up leaving my pot for about 45 minutes so the chicken started falling apart. That's up to you, but about half an hour is better.

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken) 6

Serve with rice.

Sanbeiji (Chinese Three-Cup Chicken) 7


Other braised chicken recipes:
Braised Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Ga Kho Gung (Vietnamese Braised Chicken with Ginger)
Tori No Nimono (Japanese Simmered Chicken)

1 year ago today, Geoduck, Japanese Dynamite-Style.
2 years ago today, How to Peel and Cut a mango.
3 years ago today, Mango Bread.


  1. This looks so delicious.. I cant wait to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I've made this a few times now, in a clay pot from new mexico, and it's been delicious. thank you!

  3. Dorafang,
    Yay! I love getting comments later after people have tried the recipe. Glad you liked it!


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