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A speedy, savory, sweet stir-fry
Milk Street Bowtie Three-Cup Chicken

Three-Cup Chicken

Appears in May-June 2018

35 minutes 15 minutes active

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Three-Cup Chicken

Free

Taiwanese three-cup chicken is named for the formula once used to prepare the dish: one cup each of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. Not surprisingly, recipes no longer adhere to that ratio, but the name has stuck. Bone-in chicken legs that have been hacked into pieces are customarily used in this one-pan dish; we opted for boneless, skinless chicken thighs for easier prep and eating. Serve with rice and steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t begin cooking until all ingredients are prepared; the dish comes together quickly.

35 minutes

15 minutes active

2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup sake
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch-wide strips
12 medium garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 serrano chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large
Ingredients
  • 2

    teaspoons cornstarch

  • 3

    tablespoons soy sauce

  • ¾

    cup sake

  • 2

    tablespoons packed brown sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 2

    pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch-wide strips

  • 12

    medium garlic cloves, halved lengthwise

  • 1

    bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths

  • 1

    serrano chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds

  • ¼

    cup minced fresh ginger

  • 2

    tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • 3

    cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large

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Reviews
Andrea C.
May 24, 2022
Good and Easy To Make
We have tried many Milkstreet Tuesday Night recipes and they have never disappointed. We can cook better meals at home now than many restaurants because of Milkstreet! This recipe just needed a little more flavor. We used low sodium soy sauce and should have salted the chicken to balance the lower sodium.
Mark H.

There's a garnish pictured that's not in the recipe. Black and white sesame seeds? Should these be toasted first?

Janelle C.

Hi Mark,

Either or will work so it depends on your own personal taste.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Emily B.

I have never bought sake before and have a feeling there are many kinds. Is there a particular kind I should look for?

Lynn C.

Hi Emily -

The world of sake is wide—flavors might be fruity, floral, even bubble-gummy—but for cooking, we opt for basic, inexpensive bottles. In the same way that you want to buy a wine you would want to drink you should buy a sake you would want to drink as well. A wine or liquor store can guide you to an affordable, drinkable option. However, unlike wine, fresher is better. Most sakes do not age very well so buy a small bottle if you are only using it for cooking. Some other ideas to use it up: steaming fish or shellfish, in a marinade for steak, or really anywhere you would use white wine you can substitute sake. Hope that helps!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Andrea H.

So good. Even after all that time prepping/measuring/chopping when it got down to the work of the wok. Yum. I'm thinking of using that sauce recipe for all my future stir-frys. Served with brown rice and steamed carrots. A hit with the spouse. So important.


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Three-Cup Chicken

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

35 minutes

15 minutes active

Tip

Don’t begin cooking until all ingredients are prepared; the dish comes together quickly.

Ingredients
  • 2

    teaspoons cornstarch

  • 3

    tablespoons soy sauce

  • ¾

    cup sake

  • 2

    tablespoons packed brown sugar

  • 1

    tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil

  • 2

    pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch-wide strips

  • 12

    medium garlic cloves, halved lengthwise

  • 1

    bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths

  • 1

    serrano chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds

  • ¼

    cup minced fresh ginger

  • 2

    tablespoons toasted sesame oil

  • 3

    cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large

Step 1 of 3

Cook the chicken

2
teaspoons cornstarch
3
tablespoons soy sauce
¾
cup sake
2
tablespoons packed brown sugar
1
tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil
2
pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch-wide strips

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and soy sauce, then stir in the sake and sugar. Set aside. Heat a wok over medium-high for 3 minutes, or until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds. Add the oil and swirl to coat the wok. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook without stirring until browned, about 5 minutes.

Step 2 of 3

Brown the garlic

12
medium garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
1
bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1
serrano chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rounds
¼
cup minced fresh ginger
2
tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is well-browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Add the scallions, serrano, ginger and sesame oil, then cook, stirring constantly, until the scallions begin to wilt, about 1 minute.

Step 3 of 3

Stir, coat and serve

3
cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large

Stir the sake-cornstarch mixture to recombine, then add to the wok. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes. Off heat, add the basil and stir until it begins to wilt, about 30 seconds.

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Done!

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