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This recipe for Taiwanese Three-Cup Chicken, or San Bei Ji, is a vegan and gluten-free version of a night market staple. Spicy, sweet, savory and so delicious!
What is Three-Cup Chicken?
Three-cup chicken is perhaps one of the most iconic Taiwanese dishes. I’m a quarter Taiwanese and spent a good chunk (almost 10 years) of my life growing up in Taipei. This was a classic dish you’d see on almost every menu. You could also find it at the night markets, or sold on street stands. It’s really quite simple to make, and it has a homey, comforting flavor that always reminds me of growing up. Plus, this high-protein vegan dish takes half an hour to make from start to finish.
The name three cup chicken (san bei ji 三杯鸡 literally translates to 3 cup chicken) comes from the 3 primary ingredients: equal parts soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. In addition to these star ingredients, you’ll also get flavor from fresh garlic, ginger, chili peppers and basil.
You can find versions of three-cup sauce served with chicken, squid, or cuttlefish. However, to make it vegan, I like to use vegan chicken. Of course, if you prefer, you can also make three cup tofu if you prefer.
The sauce itself is naturally vegan. And it’s easy to make gluten-free simply by using gluten-free soy sauce or tamari.
The ingredients for this three-cup tofu or chicken recipe are easy to find at most mainstream grocery stores.
Feel free to use your favorite plant-based chicken substitute as the protein source. If you’re using tofu, I recommend high-protein, extra-firm tofu!
The Thai red chilis add a nice heat to the sauce, but if you don’t like spice, feel free to leave them out.
Thai basil has a slightly different, almost spicier flavor than regular basil. If you can’t find it, regular basil works as well!
Three-cup chicken is almost always served atop steaming white rice, and traditionally served in a hot clay pot.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. You can reheat leftovers on the stove or in the microwave.
In a clay pot or in a pan on high heat, add the sesame oil. Once hot, add the ginger, garlic and chilis (if using) and stir-fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds to a minute. Then add in the chicken (or tofu) and cook for another minute.
Add the soy sauce, rice wine and coconut sugar and continue to stir then lower the heat to a low simmer and cover. Let cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the basil leaves and stir to combine and cook for about a minute. then remove from heat. Add a touch of white pepper to garnish if desired and serve with rice.
Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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