Life’s a Feast: Taiwanese three-cup chicken


Three-cup chicken is a popular Taiwanese dish. Its name refers to the three core ingredients used to make its sauce: soy sauce, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Despite the reference to three cups, chefs typically adjust these proportions to achieve the perfect balance of flavour. The chicken is browned with aromatics, then finished by poaching in the sumptuous sauce. Considering how simple this dish is, its flavours are relatively complex and pack a punch! Its simplicity leaves plenty of room for your own expression, mine being the addition of the star anise. Enjoy!


2 free range chicken breasts
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
1 pack rice stick noodles
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 spring onions sliced
1 thumb size piece of ginger julienned
1 good handful of coriander chopped (trad-
itionally Thai basil is used but none in stock)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 whole star anise
1 red chilli thinly sliced
1 pack bok choy
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Chop the ends off the bok choy, wash and set aside. Peel and mince the garlic and julienne the ginger (thinly slice into matchstick-size pieces). Thinly slice the spring onion separating the green from the white part.

2. Pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt, pepper and ground star anise if using.

3. Heat a heavy pan to a medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook the chicken on both sides for 3-4 mins until browned.

4. Add in the garlic, ginger, white bottoms of the spring onion and the sesame oil and cook for about a minute until they soften and are fragrant. Next pour in vinegar, water, soy sauce, star anise and 3/4 of the chilli and bring liquid back to the boil.

5. Reduce to a medium low heat and poach, regularly turning the chicken and spooning over the liquid for around 8 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

6. Meanwhile bring a small pan of water to boil and blanch the bok choy for 2-3 mins until softened. Cook the rice stick noodles according to the instructions.

7. Stir in half the coriander or Thai basil if using and half the green part of the spring onions and cook for a further minute.

8. Remove the chicken from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the noodles evenly across your bowls. Then top with the bok coy. Slice your chicken and spread evenly amongst the plates then drizzle over remaining sauce.

9. Garnish with rest of the chilli coriander and spring onions and serve immediately. Please note, the more traditional way is to cut the chicken into chunks before cooking which is a variation on this dish you can try.