Three Cup Chicken

January 17, 2009

Three cup chicken is an extremely flavorful dish from southern China — so-called because it consists of one part sesame oil, one part rice wine and one part soy sauce, flavored with garlic, ginger and basil.


(serves two)

  • one deboned chicken leg or two thighs
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2″ of ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or rice wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 basil leaves

Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks. Heat sesame oil over medium heat, and add ginger and garlic. Sautee until fragrant, about one minute. Increase the heat to high and add the chicken. Cook until you can’t see any more pink flesh, then add wine, soy sauce and sugar. Reduce heat, cover and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about fifteen minutes. Stir in basil just before serving.


When we want a quick, but delicious, weeknight dinner, we’ll often make something with pounded chicken – either with garlic and capers(to be posted) or  this tomato, olive and goat cheese topping.    Pounding the chicken makes it cook more quickly, while developing a nice crust and staying tender.


(serves two)

  • 1 chicken breast, pounded to about 1/4″ thick
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 10 kalamata olives, halved

Make a lemon-oregano viniagrette by whisking together

  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp(dried) oregano
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Adjust salt, pepper and honey to taste –it  should taste like something you would want on your salad.  If you have plenty of time, marinate the pounded chicken for up to 12 hours, but feel free to be lazy and just salt and pepper the chicken before frying.

Fry the chicken in some more olive oil until cooked through — about three minutes per side.  Meanwhile, let the tomatoes and olives sit in the viniagrette.  When the chicken is done, remove from the heat and let sit, covered.  Add the tomato mixture to the pan and heat until just warmed through.  Mix in

  • 2 oz goat cheese

and pour on top of the chicken.

We often serve this with roasted potatoes or with jasmine rice and some sort of green vegetable on the side.