While there are dozens of variations on this classic Taiwanese dish, the ‘three cup’ in the title refers to the fact that it is almost always made with equal parts soy sauce, Chinese rice wine and rice vinegar (and usually sesame oil).  The sauce develops a wonderfully pungent flavor from toasted peppercorns and Chinese five spice powder or star anise.  Serve with rice.

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

¾ cup reduced sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shao Hsing or Shaoxing) or dry sherry

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons honey or sugar

½ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder or 2 whole star anise

1 bunch scallions, divided

1 tablespoon canola oil

4 chicken drumsticks, skin removed

4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

12 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole, plus 1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

½ cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped, preferably Thai basil


  1. Toast peppercorns in a large flat-bottomed carbon steel wok or heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Crush in a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin.  Set aside near stove.
  1. Meanwhile, combine broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, rice wine (or sherry), sesame oil, honey (or sugar) and five spice powder (or star anise) in a medium bowl. Finely chop enough scallions to equal 2 tablespoons and reserve for garnish; cut the remaining scallions into 2 inch lengths.  Place the sauce and scallion pieces near the stove.
  1. Heat canola oil in the wok (or skillet) over high heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to medium high; add 2 drumsticks and 2 thighs and cook, undisturbed, for 4 minutes.  Carefully flip the chicken over and cook for 3 minutes on the other side, reducing the heat as needed if the pan gets too hot.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken; remove to the plate.  Add the scallion pieces, garlic and ginger to the pan; cook, stirring once or twice until they begin to brown, about 1 minute.  Add the crushed peppercorns and stir for 5 seconds.  Add the reserved sauce and cook 2 minutes.  Add the chicken and stir to coat with the sauce.
  1. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, cover the pan and cook turning the chicken halfway through until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part without touching a bone registers 165*, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in basil leaves and cook uncovered for 1 minute more.  Garnish with chopped scallions and chopped basil.



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