We tried making this dish for the first time for Mama's Birthday Party.
Theoretically, the"three cups" in Three-Cup chicken are of sesame oil, soy sauce and wine. Of course, theory is quite different from practice.
First off, browning the chicken.
After that, it was basically our favorite genre of dish: the dump-everything-into-a-pot-and-wait kind.
A light sauteing of ginger and garlic, and in went the chicken pieces, followed by 1:1:1 of sesame oil, soy sauce and michiu wine.
I tasted the braising liquid and found the sesame oil to be too overpowering. I do like sesame oil, but even I almost swooned from the aroma!
I tasted and tinkered, tasted and tinkered. I ended up adding more soy sauce and michiu.
I also added vinegar (rice wine vinegar, in this case) and sugar. The acidity really helps to cut the overly-unctuous mouthfeel of the sesame oil and add a much needed break from the rich, brown umami nature of the dish. As for the sugar: well, all the San-Bei Jis we've had always had a touch of sweetness to them. The sugar did the trick.
I tasted and tinkered until I found the balance of flavors I liked.
After braising until the chicken pieces were cooked and tender, I added the Thai basil leaves. This is a mandatory ingredient.
Needless to say, one must eat this with plain white rice. Otherwise, all that sauce has nowhere to go! The dish will be slightly salty as well, so the rice will balance that nicely.
The finished dish looks a touch scary with its crazy amount of oil. Everybody who peered into the pot while it was still cooking was tempted to skim all that away! But, I do believe that sesame oil is good for you. Right? (I don't know. I'm just making it up.)
We could have taken the skin off the chicken thighs to lessen the amount of oil that is in the dish. Traditionally, Taiwanese food is quite oily and it is not uncommon to see oil glistening in pools like in the picture below.
This classic Taiwanese dish was quite the hit at the party. It is now officially part of our repertoire.
Friday, June 20, 2008