three-cup chicken


dinner for a visiting friend that was both easy and tasty. chicken thighs are both inexpensive and tasty, and make for very good sanbei (三杯) chicken.  the name literally means three cups, referring to the equal amounts of sesame oil, chinese rice wine and soya sauce that goes into the braising liquid.

my method of cooking this dish is a sort of amalgamation of many different recipes that I’ve seen online: 4 finely chopped spring onions – separating both the green and white parts; 8 thin slices of ginger; 1 large head of garlic, separated into cloves and smashed; and 3 finely sliced large chillies.

at this point in time have a bite of your pre-dinner snack.

set aside 2 tablespoons of soya sauce, 2.5 tablespoons (tbsp) of rice wine and 0.75 tbsp of sugar in a small bowl – these are all estimates. heat 2.5 tbsp sesame oil in a large pot until it is toasty and the air smells incredibly nutty. throw in the chilli, garlic, ginger as well as the white parts of the spring onions and stir-fry until fragrant; they really should not brown.

at this point in time, throw in the chicken and brown as well as you can – this isn’t greatly significant but helps to render out some fat from the skin. now throw in the soya sauce mix with 0.25 cups of water and bring to a boil. simmer at low for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. I then remove the chicken and boil the sauce at high until it reaches your desired thickness. (lots of fat gets rendered out into the sauce though, so if you’re particular about that, make sure you remove the fat before you add in any cornflour to thicken the sauce – if you want to).

(you’ll see here that the liquid in my pot reached an amazing high, and that’s because I added far too much water – almost like I was poaching instead of braising. no worries though, just boil the sauce for longer and it all works out.)

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