chicken recipes/chinese food/chinese take out/dinner/meat/recipes

San Bei Ji: 15 Minute Easy Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken Recipe

Posted May 7, 2019 by Stephanie

Taiwanese food is coming in hot in a big way. From boba, to beef noodles, to braised pork with rice, Taiwanese food is starting to get its day in the sun. Suddenly the Shilin Night Market in Taipei is on every food obsessed person’s to visit list and giant crispy chicken cutlets shops are popping up on the coasts. I happen to love all Taiwanese food, but homestyle Taiwanese holds a special place in my heart.

Perhaps one of the most classic and well known Taiwanese dishes is san bei ji, or three cup chicken. The three cups refers to equal parts soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine, but there must be a million variations. Everyone’s family makes it differently and it’s served in plenty of restaurants too, so there’s a three cup chicken out there for everyone.

If you’re looking for a new weeknight chicken recipe, this is it. Savory and addictive with a sauce that begs to be eaten with rice, three cup chicken is fast, easy, and absolutely delicious.

Most recipes use cut up bone in chicken pieces but for east, I went with chicken wings. There’s nothing better than chicken braised in a sticky, savory, balanced dark sauce that’s sweet, savory, and comforting.

Cooking Notes:
It takes a lot of commitment to peel a whole head of garlic, but it’s worth it! Keep it simple by using the flat side of a heavy knife to crushing the garlic cloves. The skins will come right off.

For the ginger, technically you don’t need to peel it if you’re in a hurry, just give it a good wash. If you’re going to peel it, use a small spoon to scrape off the thin skin. It’s way easier than using a knife.

The chili isn’t totally necessary if you don’t have one on hand – you can add a whole dried chili in, some chili pepper flakes, or even keep it chili free.

Shaoxing wine will add that signature taste and mouthfeel but if you don’t have any, use sake!

The dark soy sauce is what give the dish that beautiful burnished brown caramel color – if you don’t have any, it’s totally optional, but it adds a hint of depth and of course makes everything pretty. It’s worthwhile to invest in a bottle of dark soy, it’s cheap and you can use it a lot in Chinese cooking.

What do you need:
Keep it simple and use a non-stick skillet, preferably the biggest one you have that has a lid. If you have a wok, you can use that too.

How do you serve it?
Serve it with fluffy white rice and a simple green vegetable.

San Bei Ji: 15 Minute Easy Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken Recipe |

San Bei Ji: 15 Minute Easy Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken Recipe |

San Bei Ji: 15 Minute Easy Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken Recipe |

San Bei Ji: 15 Minute Easy Taiwanese 3 Cup Chicken Recipe
serves 2

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 head garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Thai chili, seeds removed if preferred
  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce, optional
  • 1 pound chicken wings
  • Thai basil, optional

In a large skillet or wok, heat up the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and chili over low heat, infusing the oil with the aromatics.

Stir in the shaoxing, soy sauce, sugar, chicken wings, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil, then partially cover with a lid, and simmer on low for 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Stir in the basil leaves, if using, and serve hot with fluffy white rice.


  1. Annie says:

    When do you add in the garlic? I don’t see it in the recipe.

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi annie,
      you add it in the first step! good catch, i’ll update the recipe. thanks :)

  2. Karmen | The Healthy Cuisine says:

    I’m so happy I could make this in under 20 minutes. I had some reservations about the garlic aspect but the dish turned out perfect. Thank you for this.

  3. Tina says:

    How do you get the sauce to thicken and coat the chicken? I tried making it with chicken tenders and the sauce is very thin :(

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi tina,
      did you let the sauce reduce a bit? also, the fat content in the chicken wings helps that sauce have more body and coat the wings better. if you used white meat, there won’t be as much fat and body in the sauce, making it thinner. hopefully it tasted good still!

      1. Cat says:

        Can you add a fat if you use white meat? What would you suggest? Butter? Ghee?

        1. Stephanie says:

          if you like white meat and are used to the texture you’ll be fine without adding extra fat because of the toasted sesame oil :)

  4. Jessamin says:

    I made this last night and loved it! I followed the recipe exactly. I was a little worried because the sauce remained thin for the nearly the entirety of the boiling time. I kept checking it and it seemed like magically around the 25-minute mark for me it suddenly became a deep, dark glaze as pictured. I baked my leftovers tonight and they were just as good. Will keep this one around for sure, so easy for a weeknight.

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