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Recipes of China: Hainan Chicken from Side Chick

Recipes of China: Three Cup Chicken from BeBe Fusion

By Clarissa Wei

Apr. 27, 2017
Clarissa Wei learns how to make Three Cup Chicken
Clarissa Wei learns how to make Three Cup Chicken

Foodie Clarissa Wei learns how to make classic Taiwanese comfort food with an addictive sauce.

BeBe Fusion is a Taiwanese restaurant in Southern California named after the owner’s children, Belinda and Benjamin. The menu features Taiwanese comfort food, and a smorgasbord of family-style dishes like braised pork belly and Dungeness crab over sticky rice. The stinky tofu, a signature Taiwanese dish, is one of the most authentic in the city, fried up in French fry form and with heaps of basil. As is typical of traditional Taiwanese food, there are a lot of seafood offerings, like whole squid, oyster omelets, and lobster drizzled with kewpie mayonnaise.

The cuisine is a personal favorite of mine—heavy on the oysters and sweet-leaning sauces. Taiwanese food is a motley collection of mainland Chinese, Japanese, Hakka and indigenous influences. It’s the food of my parents and an irrevocable part of my identity. The island is especially renowned for its night markets, open-air bazaars heavy with deep-fried treats and meats on sticks.

The process of making an authentic Taiwanese dish at BeBe Fusion kitchen
Taiwanese food is a motley collection of mainland Chinese, Japanese, Hakka and indigenous influences.

BeBe Fusion has all of the above, and is a favorite of mine in Alhambra, a city that’s already chock-full of Taiwanese eateries that cater specifically to the Taiwanese diaspora. It is the perfect place to take your Taiwanese in-laws or parents. The owners don’t skip on quantity or quality, and they also have Taiwanese beer on tap for the nostalgic.

The Three Cup Chicken here is especially savory. Its name is derived from the three key ingredients used in the sauce: black sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine. It’s a dish that reportedly originates from the Jiangxi province of southern China but is most prolific in Taiwan. In Southern California, many versions of this dish are thin on flavors, but BeBe Fusion’s rendition has a thick, addictive sauce meant to be ladled on white rice. The sauce isn’t exclusive to chicken, and can be used for squid or frog, as well.

The basil adds an extra kick. Once in Taiwan, a prominent chef told me that adding basil to the dish was an American-Taiwanese touch that was taken back to Taiwan and popularized.

Monica Wu, the owner of BeBe Fusion, an authentic Taiwanese restaurant in Alhambra
Monica Wu, the owner of BeBe Fusion, an authentic Taiwanese restaurant in Alhambra

Monica Wu, the owner of BeBe Fusion who is from Taipei, has been perfecting the recipe since childhood, and she says the key is to use a thick soy sauce. She also uses organic chicken, and adds that this recipe can be made with chicken wings or thighs for those cooks who don’t want to use a whole chicken.

All ingredients needed for Taiwanese Three cup chicken on the table
Three Cup Chicken is a classic Taiwanese dish.

Three Cup Chicken

Cooking time: 15 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 organic whole chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 12 thin slices of ginger
  • 12 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of whole basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp of black sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp of thick soy sauce paste
  • 2 tbsp of rice wine
  • 2 cups of water
  • 4 tbsp of sugar
  • Canola oil
Directions:

  1. Put a pan on medium heat and add canola oil, so that it coats the pan.
  2. Sauté the ginger pieces until fragrant.
  3. Then add chicken. Cook until the poultry is done, about 10 minutes.
  4. Mix in the garlic.
  5. Add sugar, soy sauce, rice wine and water.
  6. Cook until the water is absorbed, and there’s no more liquid in the pan. The sauce should be thick.
  7. Add basil.
  8. Turn off the heat, and add black sesame oil at the end.

BeBe Fusion: 201 E Bay State St, Alhambra, CA 91801

Hungry for more? Follow Clarissa’s journey through China as she uncovers authentic dishes and cultural insight.

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