Food - Drink
What Makes Taiwanese Three Cup Chicken Unique
By LAUREN ROTHMAN
Asia is home to a plethora of delicious chicken dishes, and one of these is Taiwan's iconic three cup chicken. This centuries-old dish takes its unique name from the ratio of ingredients that were once used to prepare it, but three cup chicken has evolved to the point where the name doesn't really suit most modern recipes.
Three cup chicken is linked to writer, philosopher, politician, and Chinese nationalist hero Wen Tianxiang, who was supposedly served a version of the dish as his last meal. Chinese immigrants brought the dish to Taiwan, and while three cup chicken's cultural significance has not changed, its ingredients and flavor have.
The original three cup chicken called for a cup each of sesame oil, rice wine, and soy sauce, but this created a super-oily, acrid sauce, so the "three cup" ratio was changed. Chinese American blogger Kaitlin Leung uses a tablespoon of sesame oil, ¼ cup of Shaoxing rice wine, and a 7-tablespoon mix of light and dark soy sauce.
Leung also uses two teaspoons of sugar in the sauce, plus ginger, garlic, dried chile, Thai basil, and sliced scallions. Taiwanese-American restaurateur Eddie Huang explains that when making a modern sauce for three cup chicken, "The point is to draw the sugar out of all the ingredients using a little sesame oil, but not a lot."