Our Classic 3 Cups Chicken is Good Enough to Be Your Last Meal

March 15, 2019

I’m a giant history nerd so I always enjoy reading about the history of all the new dishes I get to try at the Pepper studio. This is actually the first time I’ve ever tried 3 Cups Chicken. Though, apparently, it’s popular enough in Taiwan for it to be said that “a restaurant that cannot cook Sanbeiji (3 Cups Chicken) is not a true Taiwanese restaurant.”

3 cups chicken1

According to legend, 3 Cups Chicken was the last meal of a Chinese national hero named Wen Tianxiang who lived during the latter parts of the 13th century under the Song Dynasty. He was captured by Kublai Khan, but was thrown into prison when he refused to betray his faction, saying instead, “All men are mortal, but my loyalty will illuminate the annals of history forever.”

3 cups chicken3

Of course, the Khan was not amused. However, prior to his scheduled execution, his prison warden took pity on him and cooked Wen 3 Cups Chicken for his last meal. Also, though, this really has nothing to do with food or the story, but I just feel the need to point out that that quote up there is so badass I feel like I grew chest hair just by reading it. So yeah, girls, you’ve been warned.

3 cups chicken2

The name 3 Cups Chicken refers to what people today believe to be the original recipe used by the friendly jailer, namely a cup each of soy sauce, wine, and sugar for the sauce. Obviously, our version doesn’t exactly adhere to that ratio. Our tweaked recipe’s proportions provides a more refined balance of flavors that caters to the modern palate much better than one created by a dude in a prison camp 730 years ago.

3 cups chicken4

However, if you’re a stickler for tradition, there’s no need to fret. Simply make four times as much of the recipe and presto, you got legit 3 Cups Chicken with a cup of each of oil, wine, and sugar. Even better, since you’re using Bounty Fresh chicken, even 2 kilos of fresh and tasty wings is still extremely affordable and easy to find. Your only problem then is to find sixteen people to eat that mountain of food with you. Good luck.

Classic 3 Cups Chicken

Total Time: 40 minutes | Yield: 3-4 servings


  • 500g Bounty Fresh chicken wings (meaty wing part only, chopped in half to make 2 pcs)
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves


  1. In a hot pot, heat the sesame oil and sauté the garlic until it turns light brown.
  2. Add the Bounty Fresh chicken wings and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add in the soy sauce, shaoxing wine, and sugar. Mix well until everything is completely combined.
  4. Let it boil for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is tender and the sauce is syrupy. 5 minutes before turning off the fire, add in the basil leaves.
  5. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Lars Roxas Lars Roxas

Laurence is a twenty-something turtle pretending to be a writer. In the past, he has worked as a warehouse clerk, Apple genius, martial arts instructor, copywriter, editor, english teacher, and personal trainer. He can’t swim or ride a bike, but he's done Judo on three continents. He has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. Occasionally, his stories appear in real actual books. He makes awesome waffles.

13 comments in this post SHOW

13 responses to “Our Classic 3 Cups Chicken is Good Enough to Be Your Last Meal”

  1. sheryll_r says:

    Can I cook this in something other than a hot pot? Will an ordinary pan/skillet do?

  2. sheryll_r says:

    Hi! Can I cook this in something other than a hot/clay pot? How about an ordinary pan or skillet?

  3. Michael Gonzales says:

    is it a boil or a braise – how high do i need to keep this fire as the chicken cooks?

  4. Camille says:

    Just want to ask where Shaoxing Wine can be purchased? 🙂

  5. Angelica Gutierrez says:

    The hot pot in the photo is so pretty! Where did you guys get it? 🙂

  6. […] what really got my attention was a recipe for a dish I haven’t had for quite some time now: sanbeiji – three-cups […]

  7. myette says:

    what soy sauce brand do you recommend?

  8. lee says:

    Grammar Nazi alert! *Your only problem…

    Photos look great. I will try this recipe at home 🙂

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