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A large clay pot with Three cup chicken (San Bei Ji) inside
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5 from 3 votes

Three Cup Chicken (San Bei Ji)

A super easy, one-pot recipe for an incredibly flavorful, three cup chicken (San Bei Ji) that is loaded with garlic and ginger and braised in a sesame soy sauce which caramelizes into a flavorful sauce that goes amazing with rice!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: 3 cup chicken, three cup chicken
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 923kcal
Author: Joyce | Pups with Chopsticks


  • 2 lbs chicken wings (or boneless dark meat chicken)
  • cup sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 15 cloves garlic (smashed and intact, do not chop them.)
  • 10 slices ginger
  • 4 small shallots (or 1 small onion - cut into 1-inch chunks)
  • 5-6 birdseye chili (medium heat. Use less to make it less spicy or more to make it spicier)


Delicate Aromatics (Add At The End)

  • 3 stalks green onions (chopped into 2-inch length)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves (I like to use Thai basil for this but in a pinch, Italian basil will work as well)



  • Slice the ginger and set it aside for later
  • Peel the garlic and use the side of a knife to smash it down to crush it. Do not cut them into small pieces, leave them intact so that they don't burn as easily. Don't worry it will soften and caramelize during the cooking process. Set it aside for later
  • Peel and chop the shallots into 1 inch chunks. Set it aside for later
  • Cut the green onions 2 inches lengthwise and set aside for the end
  • Wash and pick the basil leaves off the stems and set aside for the end

Making the Sauce

  • In a bowl, combine the hot water and sugar. Stir it until the sugar has dissolved
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, add the soy sauce and Chinese rice wine.
  • Mix it and set aside for later.

Putting It Together

  • Set the stove to medium heat and add the sesame oil into a large pot. Try to use a pot with tall wall to prevent the oil splatter from getting everywhere.
  • When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the ginger and toast it for about 3 minutes
  • Once the ginger has toasted for a bit, add the shallots, chilies and garlic and toast it for 2 minutes until it is golden brown.
  • Add in the chicken and brown it for approximately 5 to 10 minutes
  • Once the chicken has slightly browned, pour in the sauce and cover the pot with a lid. Adjust the heat to medium low heat and let it braise for 10 minutes.
  • Once 10 minutes is up, remove the lid and raise the heat back to medium heat. Let everything simmer for 8-10 more minutes (lid off). The sauce will start to caramelize and thicken.
  • Once 8-10 minutes is up and the sauce should have thickened, add in the green onions and mix well for 1 minute.
  • Turn off the heat and add in the basil and mix well.
  • Enjoy with a bowl of rice! (don't eat the ginger slices! Remove them ahead of time, or when you're eating :) )


  • Keeping the onions into 1 inch chunks and smashing the garlic and keeping it intact, prevents it from being burned when you are browning them in the oil
  • Delicate aromatics such as fresh basil loses a bit of flavor when it's cooked for too long. Using the residual heat from the dish to wilt it, maintains the flavors.
  • Do not substitute Chinese Rice Wine with Rice Vinegar - it is a completely different flavor. You can substitute it for Dry Sherry or Shaoxing Cooking Wine for this recipe. If you substitute it with Dry Sherry, the sauce will be slightly more sweeter since Chinese Rice Cooking Wine and Shaoxing Cooking wine have a bit of salt in it.
  • In the past, I have noticed Shaoxing cooking wine usually has less sodium than Chinese rice wine, so if you use Shaoxing cooking wine, you may need to adjust the salt to taste at the end with a taste test.
  • This recipe also works well with white meat. If you use white meat, cut it into bite sized chunks and marinate it in a mini brine of 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of water for 1 hour before using the chicken. This will keep the chicken moist and tender, and won't overcook as easily.
  • If you use boneless chicken, the sauce will need to use a corn starch slurry (1 tablespoon of corn starch mixed with 1 ½ tablespoon of cold water) to thicken the sauce at the end. The cartilage from the bones helps thicken the sauce to a thicker consistency.


Serving: 1Serving (½ lb of wings) | Calories: 923kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 64g | Cholesterol: 174mg | Sodium: 2632mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 26g