I am a scientist who loves to cook because there are many similarities between working in a lab and cooking in a kitchen. I love to share my cooking experience with you and to inspire others to cook.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Basil Chicken Asian Style with a "twist" (Three cups chicken, 三杯鸡)

This blog has come a long way since the beginning and one of the earliest posts was this dish - Three cups chicken (click on the link to see the early days of this blog). I gave it an Anglicanized name this time to make it sound less exotic.

The general idea is quite similar with several significant differences between this time and last time. Traditional "Three Cups Chicken" is cooked with lots of basil. I wasn't a fan of basil back then but I am now, so I went back to the root of this dish. Another difference is the ratio of the wet ingredients. In my previous post, I used 1:1:1 ratio of soy sauce, sesame oil and cooking wine (hence the term three cups) but now, after years of cooking, I can imagine the flavor in my head and adjust the recipe to find the right balance on-the-go (a skill that is still a work-in-progress).

The aromatics remain largely the same except a "twist" as you shall see later.

Ingredients: (serves around 6)

3 whole chicken drumsticks and thighs (bone in and skin on; you can go full-on skinless chicken breast, if that's your thing)
2 cloves of garlic
1 small piece of ginger
a few tablespoon soy sauce
a few tablespoon cooking wine (any cooking wine is fine, no cooking wine is fine too)
a few tablespoons sesame oil
a few tablespoon dark soy sauce (optional)
a few sprigs of fresh basil (stem-off) - thai basil, italian basil, whatever basil you can find
a few sprigs of cilantro (completely optional, this is just me playing with flavors)
salt, pepper, and sugar for taste

and here's the "twist"

Curry leaves, a few of these add a ton of intricate flavors to this traditional dish


1. Brown the chicken evenly on all sides in some oil.
2. Add the garlic and ginger.
3. Mix the wet ingredient in a bowl and add equal volume of water.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the cooking pan.
5. Cover the pan and let the chicken simmer in the juice at low heat for about 10 minutes.
6. Uncover the pan, add a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper.
7. Now this is when you put the basil, cilantro and curry leaves into the pan. Stuff it snugly around the chicken.
8. Cover the pan and cook it for an additional 5-10 minutes.
9. Trust your sense of taste and adjust the flavor accordingly.

The flavors of the basil, curry leaves and cilantro blended so well together that you get a hint of different flavors in every bite. I used high quality chicken so the meat stayed together, instead of breaking down too quickly, yet tender and juicy at the same. That sauce! I slurped it down like it is the most delicious thing on earth! There is no way to describe this.

1 comment: