三杯雞 -SAN BEI JI (Three Cup Chicken)

Recipe taken from The International Table: Recipes from the Seattle Sister Cities

Three cup chicken is an extremely fragrant and delicious food. It is called San Bei (“three cups”) because of the three essential ingredients: one cup of soy sauce, one cup of Shaoxing cooking wine or mirin, and one cup of sesame oil. Garlic and sweet Thai basil give the dish lots of flavor. The dish is often served in a sizzling stone pot with a side of rice.

There are many variations of this simple and popular chicken dish. Use whatever parts of the chicken you like and cut the pieces into any size. Vary the proportions of the three main ingredients to fit your taste. Serves 4.



2 tsp vegetable oil

4 garlic cloves, mashed

1 2–3” piece of ginger, peeled and

sliced into medallions

1/2 cup sesame oil

2 lbs boneless and skinless chicken,

cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 cup Shaoxing wine* or mirin

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 tsp of sugar

1 red Thai chili*, sliced

handful of Thai basil

3 green onions, sliced

*See below for details



Preheat the pan to very hot and add the vegetable oil. Fry the garlic and ginger until they just begin to brown. Add in sesame oil and chicken. Brown the chicken on all sides.

Add the Shaoxing wine or mirin, soy sauce, and sugar. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce thickens. Stir in chili, basil, and green onion, and serve with rice.


*SHAOXING WINE (绍兴酒) is a Chinese rice-based cooking wine. Substitute soju, sake, cheongju, or mirin

*THAI CHILI PEPPERS (sometimes called BIRD’S EYE CHILIS) are small, very hot peppers with a fruity taste. As with other chili peppers, they turn red as they ripen. Serrano or jalapeño peppers can be used in substitute.