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When it comes to busy weeknights, quick, one-pot recipes are total lifesavers. This three-cup chicken dish from Clarissa Wei’s new cookbook, Made in Taiwan: Recipes and Stories from the Island Nation, will save you from eating cheese and crackers for dinner (again), since it’s made with a handful of pantry staples and ready to devour in about 30 minutes.
“The ‘three’ in three-cup chicken refers to soy sauce, black sesame oil and rice wine, though not in the same proportions and definitely not a cup of each,” Wei writes. “Add a bit of sugar, and the combination creates a versatile nutty, salty and sweet concoction that can also be reused on mushrooms, calamari or even eggplant. A kiss of fresh Taiwanese basil—a local variety that’s most similar to Thai basil but with light anise overtones—rounds out the dish and gives it a lovely brightness.”
Free-range, bone-in chicken is traditionally used, but you could easily substitute boneless chicken thighs. Just don’t substitute the breasts because dark meat is essential to this dish. And if you do use boneless chicken thighs, make sure to keep a careful eye on the meat, checking its doneness after about 10 minutes, since it cooks faster.
Excerpted from MADE IN TAIWAN: Recipes and Stories from the Island Nation. Copyright @ 2023 by Clarissa Wei. Photography Copyright © 2023 by Yen Wei and Ryan Chen. Reproduced by permission of Simon Element, and imprint of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.
¼ cup Taiwanese rice wine or cooking sake
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon coarse raw sugar, such as demerara
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons lard or canola or soybean oil
6 garlic cloves, smashed
One 2-inch piece ginger, unpeeled and cut into 1/16-inch slices
2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, chopped into 2-inch-thick pieces
2 cups fresh Thai basil
1 red jalapeño pepper or another medium chile, deseeded and sliced into thin rings (optional)
1 to 2 tablespoons black sesame oil
1. In a small bowl, make the sauce by mixing the rice wine, soy sauce, 2 tablespoons water, sugar and white pepper.
2. In a wok, heat the lard or oil over medium heat. When it starts to shimmer, add the garlic and ginger, and cook until lightly brown and the edges of the ginger begin to curl, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the garlic and ginger, reserving the oil in the wok. Set the garlic and ginger to the side.
3. Increase the heat to high and add the chicken. Sear until it’s well-browned on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the sauce, bring to a boil and return the ginger to the wok. Cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Gently simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has reduced to a treacly, sticky glaze.
4. Uncover the wok and increase the heat to high so the sauce begins to bubble vigorously. Return the garlic to the wok and quickly toss in the basil and jalapeño, if using. Mix to combine and drizzle the black sesame oil over the chicken. Turn off the heat and transfer to a plate. Serve immediately.