Saturday, November 14, 2015

Three-Cup Chicken

In December of 1949, the Chinese civil war tipped in favor of the Communists when Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the Chinese Nationalists, fled to the island of Taiwan. A series of Communist offensives led to the defeat of the Nationalists. Mao Zedong took rule of China and Chiang Kai-shek took rule of Taiwan.

Taiwan became a democracy in 1986. It is still technically at war with China and China refuses to recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. The war rages in the culinary halls of the two countries as well. Chinese Fried Rice is considered a staple of all eight cuisine regions in China. Taiwan considers Three-Cup Chicken as their staple dish.

I'm more than happy to recognize both. In America, everyone knows about and has eaten Chinese Fried Rice. But very few people have heard of Three-Cup Chicken. So I'm going to introduce it to you here. It's ridiculously simple to make. It's delicious. And all you need to achieve perfection is to pair it with white rice.

3 tablespoons sesame oil
1, 2-to-3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins (approximately 12)
12 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 whole scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless or bone-in, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ cup rice wine
¼ cup light soy sauce
2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves or regular basil leaves

  1. Heat a wok over high heat, and add 2 tablespoons sesame oil. When the oil shimmers, add the ginger, garlic, scallions and peppers, and cook until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes.
  2. Scrape the aromatics to the sides of the wok, add remaining oil and allow to heat through. Add the chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and crisping at the edges, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add sugar, and stir to combine, then add the rice wine and soy sauce, and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat, then simmer until the sauce has reduced and started to thicken, approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, add basil and stir to combine. Serve.

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

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