Thursday, November 19, 2009

3 Cups Chicken (San Bei Ji)

The other evening, an alluring aroma came wafting into my home. Someone had obviously begun cooking dinner and clearly, was using a copious amount of sesame oil. I can't quite remember what I was doing at the moment, but I do recall telling myself that it must have been the wet, gloomy weather that was making me crave for a warming dish with plenty of sesame oil.

The next day, I cooked 3 Cups Chicken :)



If you are familiar with Chinese cuisine, you would have heard of this dish. It uses 3 key ingredients - sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine - and is traditionally served in claypot. According to Wikipedia, "When it is served at the table, the chicken should be sizzling — even popping — on the cusp of burning."

On the cusp of burning! Serve me something that is sizzling hot and I am an instant convert.

For the uninitiated, "3 cups" in this dish does not equate with the actual "cup" in the baking sense of the word. It merely refers to the proportions. So, if you used, say, 200ml sesame oil, then you will be using the same amounts for the soy and wine respectively. For me, I used my rice bowl as a guide.



Now, if you know me, I adore cognac in my food. Hence, faced with the choice of using Hua Tiao rice wine or Camus cognac, my decision couldn't have been more sober ;)

I would highly recommend marinating the chicken for an extended period of time, to allow the flavours to mingle and infuse. I did the marinating in the morning, at about 8.30am, and cooked the dish at about 6.30pm. Another time I made it, I allowed the chicken to marinate overnight, and it was even more delicious.


Everything was caramelised, including the garlic cloves!

Of course, being a fan of garlic, I added an entire bulb! I saved those nuggets of gold for last. I know you're probably going to laugh at me, but I can honestly say that while I thoroughly enjoyed the chicken in all its caramelised glory, I relished every clove of garlic even more. Slow-cooked in their own skins, their astringent bite mellowed, they were a pleasure to eat - so creamy, almost like potatoes. Heaven.

Recipe
- 1 fresh chicken (chopped into identical-sized parts)
- 1 rice bowl black sesame oil
- 1 rice bowl soy sauce
- 1 rice bowl Hua Tiao Chinese rice wine (or COGNAC!)
- 1 bulb garlic, separated into individual cloves, skins on
- 3 slices old ginger
- 1 thumb size rock sugar (or 2 tbsp fine sugar - a little more or less won't hurt)
- 3 large bunches of spring onions, cut into 1 inch lengths (I did not have basil, as called for by most recipes, so I used spring onions in lieu ... they worked fine)
* For the sake of photography, I saved some spring onions for garnishing. You don't have to.

1. Marinate chicken with soy, sesame oil and rice wine. At least for 6 hours, although overnight is best.

2. Take the chill off the meat. Heat up some sesame oil in a wok or claypot until it is sizzling hot.

3. Throw in garlic, ginger and spring onions. Fry briefly till fragrant. Add in chicken and sear.

4. Keep stir-frying. Pour in the marinade liquid and the sugar. Continue to cook on medium.

5. Once you have a rolling boil, cover the wok/claypot and let it simmer over a small flame, until all the liquid has disappeared and the chicken is on the cusp of burning.

6. There should hardly be any gravy left. The chicken should be caramelised (charred at parts, even) and sizzling when served.



Maybe I should do a "3 Cups Garlic"?

40 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness ..another dish I am now craving!!!You shine the light fantastic on your photos Little Ju:)I love saying..one rice bowl of.. :)

    I am anxious to try this..I wonder if my clay hen could work as the cooking vessel?

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  2. WOW! So perfect and definitely yummy too! Gonna bookmark this :)

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  3. San Bei Ji is my favourite dish too!

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  4. Wow!!!!!!! I love the macro photo of the garlic!! This dish looks awesome, Ju!!!

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  5. Nice shots of caramelized garlic and I think basil would have given it even better flavour, you think so?

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  6. you know, one day soon, a meal just from your website... I can do this

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  7. Wow! I just gawk at your pictures for 30 seconds in silent!! The glaze is so mouth-watering. I love 3 cup chicken. Will steal your recipe :)

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  8. I love this dish and it's been ages since I had it! Will definitely give it a go. ;)

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  9. I love san bei ji, your version is lovely with the cameralised sugar :)

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  10. Wow, looks so wonderful! Love the garlic shot! I'm getting hungry just looking at your photos! ; )

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  11. What GORGEOUS photographs.....I'm drooling!!!

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  12. Nothing more to say than: I am hungry now!

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  13. one of my favorites - i could eat it by the bowlfuls! your photos are wonderful.

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  14. This look really really tempting, I feel hungry now and can I have a piece to try? hehehe. Good job.

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  15. One of my absolute all-time Taiwanese favorite!! Yumm!!

    Love your blog ... Keep it up!

    Pei-Lin

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  16. I can just eat the photo and I will be happy.

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  17. Wow, that look soooooooooooo good. I can't help it but salivating at the pictures. You sure can make me hungry. I am bookmarking this.

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  18. I love carmelized garlic, too!!! Actually, I love anything that has garlic in it!!! Hmmm...I can almost smell it through the internet!!! Yummy!

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  19. Maybe you can try adding basil the next time, so that you can have Taiwanese version of 3-cups chicken? Do it all with mushrooms for vegetarian version. Hee heee....3-cups chicken lover right here! Ha!

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  20. Very nice indeed. I will keep this recipe for sure. Love the photos! Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Ohh lala ... I love the glaze on the chicken..!
    I can't and I am not laughing at you because I love garlic too.. I normally add more garlic then whatever says in the recipes ... heheeh... I enjoy every clove of it.. :)
    Oh yeah... I don't know if I mention to you.. that I am also Teo Chew nang. ;P

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  22. whats the rough measurement for a rice bowl? hehe

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  23. They look even better than my grandma's!
    ...but don't tell her that ;)

    I'm excited to give this recipe a try and make them myself!

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  24. this looks sooooo good! i cannot wait to try your recipe (esp with the garlic!) . it seems similar to filipino adobo?
    anyhow, looks delish!

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  25. Wow! This dish has become very famous nowadays! Yours look so mouth-watering! Lovely!

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  26. Hi Little Teochew, wow! You're fantastic! Outstanding! I can practically get the beautiful scent of the chicken here.
    Where you learn to cook? Your mom?

    You know, if not for a woman who can cook, I would have been a bachelor much longer, ha ha.
    She hit me in my tummy, so to speak, ha ha...so I married the cook.
    Habis cherita.
    You have a nice day, and hold that smile, Lee.

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  27. Beautiful photos! so crystal and the garlic one was splendid Ju. Wow. the chicken is so tempting in theri caramelized gorgeousness. :)

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  28. I can just taste all that carmelized goodness. Your pictures are beautiful -- I always want to make what you cook :)

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  29. amazing!! makes me hungry for a second dinner ; )

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  30. I have got to try this, it looks amazing! Carmelized everything - yum! Your photos are beautiful, I can almost taste the garlic.

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  31. I've seen this on a few blogs but have never had it. I think I might make this now because of your post. Thanks!!

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  32. Hey your garlic looks alive ! Stunning pictures you got there. Thanks to you now I know how to dispose off my cognac !

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  33. Great photos! I am going to try this recipe soon for sure!

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  34. GAH i love san bei ji -- my mom and I would eat this frequently on the weekends, the sauce is so savory and I like that they serve it in clay pots nom nom nom I will try this one at home one day for sure!

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  35. This is the first recipe I made from your blog and it turned out pretty tasty! Thanks for sharing. I have a question though -- I used regular Japanese sesame oil and soy sauce, marinated 6 hours, and my chicken and sauce turned very dark. What kind of ingredients do you use? How did you get your sauce to stay so pretty and golden?

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  36. Love this but I don't cook this often because of the amount of oil! The colour is just gorgeous.

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  37. oh my goodness I have to try this I cannot wait absolutely delicious.

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  38. Oh wow!!! This looks fantastic!

    I've never tried / tasted this dish before and I can also tell from your photos and list of ingredients that it's going to be D I V I N E.

    I love garlic and have an abundance of basil growing in my garden! This is perfect.

    Thank you so much!!!

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  39. 3 cups chicken is one of my favourite dish.
    your 3cups chicken pics are soo attractive that i'm so eager to give it a try.
    i did try it yesterday but my 3 cups chicken turns out as black as charcoal.. and it's too salty too.. not golden brown like yours.
    my mom said i put too much soy sauce.. possibly..
    i will give it another try :)

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  40. thanks for sharing the lovely recipe with us...i was in the mood for it today an so decided to give your recipe a go albeit with some slight modification...i added more ginger slices as i love biting on the 'caramelized ginger'...i added basil leaves with my dish but only at the end...just wondering if i should have added this in when sautéing the ginger & garlic...will definitely be cooking this again...shiok!

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