Taiwanese Chicken: A One-Pan, Weeknight Meal

Daniel Hautzinger
Three Cup Chicken from Christopher Kimball's Milk Street. Photo: Connie Miller of CB Creatives
Photo: Connie Miller of CB Creatives

Christopher Kimball's Milk Street airs Saturdays at 4:00 pm beginning September 8.

The next time you're craving Chinese take-out, make this recipe from Christopher Kimball's Milk Street instead. You'll probably eat just as quickly, it will taste just as good if not better, and it's probably healthier.

Taiwanese Three-Cup Chicken

Taiwanese three-cup chicken is named for the formula once used to prepare the dish: 1 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 traditional for this one-pan dish; we opted for boneless, skinless chicken thighs for easier prep and eating. Though we prefer to use a wok, this recipe also works in a 12-inch skillet. Serve with rice and steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

Note: Don't begin cooking until all ingredients are prepared; the dish comes together quickly. Don't stir the chicken for about 5 minutes after adding it to the skillet. This helps the chicken brown and develop flavor.

Start to finish: 35 minutes (15 minutes active)

Serves: 4


2 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp soy sauce
3/4 cup sake
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed, patted dry, 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 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn if large


1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.