lundi, mai 09, 2011

Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken (三杯鸡)


I must have mentioned that we have a Chinese State-run 5* hotel in our compound. In it there is a "model" 5* Chinese restaurant. And for a few Thursdays now I have been learning how to cook with one of its top Chefs, a certain Wang shifu. The cookery lessons were included in our rent.

One of the dishes we learnt recently was Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken 三杯鸡. It supposedly originated from China but has since become very popular in Taiwan. As a matter of fact we have a few Taiwanese ladies in our group and they were protesting as the Chef finished his lesson - that in Taiwan they didn't cook this dish the way he just did!

I therefore decided that I needn't follow his recipe to the letter, me too I will cook it my own way. The important thing is to respect the use of 3 basic ingredients : dark soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and Chinese cooking wine and to eventually cook the dish in some earthenware. From what I've understood after hearing out the Taiwanese present, garlic, chilli and basil leaves also feature importantly in the dish.

San Bei Ji :

boneless chicken drumstick meat (cubed largely)
chinese cooking wine
egg white

fresh ginger
red onion
garlic cloves
red, green and yellow peppers
fresh basil leaves
bird's eye chilli (for decoration)

The Sauce :

oyster sauce
chinese cooking wine
dried hot chillies (crushed) or chilli sauce
dark soy sauce
toasted sesame oil
dark chinese vinegar
fresh basil leaves


Wang shifu never provided measures when he taught us how to cook. Cooking is about personal taste. He would show us the "standard" method to cook a dish, telling us for example if the dish would be better off sweet, sour, bland etc - and why, but how much of anything we should add is really up to us. His favourite word is "估计" or estimate.

One thing for sure is that one should marinate the chicken for a few hours with some salt, pepper, wine, egg white and cornstarch to prepare the meat for cooking.

Chinese restaurant cooking uses a lot of oil and 5* restaurant or not, the Chef uses quite a bit of msg in his cooking. We would give him the ugly look whenever he started to reach out for the latter and he has learnt to say, "We will use just a tiny bit of msg for this dish..."

I have therefore adapted the recipe for home cooking and also to suit my personal taste.

After the chicken has been seasoned, prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients (except the water and corn starch) together in a bowl. Steep some fresh basil leaves in the sauce.

Cut the onion and peppers into medium pieces. The garlic can be used whole and crushed, or sliced. The ginger can be just sliced or julienned.

The dish can be prepared directly in an earthenware e.g. claypot or cooked in a frying pan or wok and then finished in an earthenware. I used the second method.

Add about 2 tbsps of toasted sesame oil to a medium-hot frying pan and fry the ginger, followed by the onions, garlic and fresh basil leaves. It is best not to overheat sesame oil, by the way.

Add 2 tbsps of canola or peanut oil to the pan and fry the peppers. Add the marinated chicken pieces and brown them on both sides.

Now stir in the prepared sauce and coat the chicken thoroughly in it. After about 5 minutes, pour in some water and let the chicken simmer in it over low heat till half the water is absorbed by the meat. Stir in some cornstarch-water solution to thicken the sauce.

I poured the meat and sauce into a Spanish clay dish at this point and placed it under the grill in my oven to finish cooking. Parts of the chicken would be caramelised (this is basically a sweet dish so be generous with the sugar).

Take the dish out of the oven, mix the chicken properly with the sauce, drizzle more toasted sesame oil over the chicken and serve it hot with steamed jasmine rice or rice congee.

2 commentaires:

SIG a dit…

Thank you. :)

sohcool a dit…

It is so good to read your new postings again. I check out your site during my morning self-declared office pause.
This post sounds like you are living in the estate of "The Stepford Wives". Cooking lessons included in rent?? LOL.