Three Cup Chicken (三杯鸡 – Sān bēi jī)

This week I have made my own take on a classic Chinese dish – three cup chicken. It is often considered in the west as a Taiwanese dish and has enjoyed deep popularity there, but it has it’s origins from the landlocked Jiangxi province in China. Historically Jiangxi can be seen as the homeland of the Chinese communist party where it established early bases after the fall of the Qing dynasty.

The origin of this iconic dish goes back much further than that, to as far as the late Song dynasty. There are various versions of how it was first made and what combination of ingredients should be used. But it is common accepted from its name sake the dish consists of chicken cooked with a cup of soy sauce, a cup of sesame oil and finally a cup of alcohol (most commonly rice wine).

Some think it should be three equal cups of the ingredients, but the result would be very oily and salty. The name really just highlights the three key ingredients to cooking the chicken. I’m also using gluten free beer instead of rice wine as I think it gives it more flavour, but you are welcome to experiment. This dish goes really well with a cold beer, so it’s a bonus you have some left from the bottle opened for cooking.


300/400 g chicken thigh fillet
50 + 10 ml sesame oil
50 ml gf soy sauce (or light soy sauce if using normal soy sauce half the quantity)
230 ml gf beer, in this case brewdog vagabond (or 150 ml rice wine)
100 g ginger sliced
10 large cloves of garlic, whole
Handful of spring onions
2 Bell Red Pepper
1 heaped teaspoon sugar


1 medium wok with lid


  1. Start by a dicing the chicken into 1 inch chunks. Cut the bell pepper into the same size as the chicken, slice the ginger and chilli then loosely cut up the spring onion.

2. Add 50 ml sesame oil to the wok along with the sliced ginger. Heat on medium heat until the ginger slightly browns.

3. Add the chicken and turn heat up to high. Stir fry for 3 minutes until the chicken browns slightly.

4. Add the garlic whole and cook for another minute.

5. Add the cup of gluten free beer and cup of soy sauce along with the sugar and cook with the lid on at heat high for 10 minutes.

6. Finally, add the spring onion and pepper and cook until the sauce is all evaporated and absorbed into the chicken.

7. Serve and enjoy!

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