The eponymous “cups” of this recipe denote equal parts soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. It’s a potent, salty and savory braised chicken dish with these ingredients along, but the dish really gets its signature from the sheer volume of garlic cloves, thick pieces of ginger and fresh basil leaves for flavor. This recipe’s name might underscore the fact that most recipes were passed orally in Taiwan, rather than written, until recent generations. After one taste of it prepared elsewhere, it is quite irresistible to try re-creating at home. This dish shares some similarities with Hakka-style preparations and red-braised styles of cooking, but its use of basil is refreshingly distinct. It has been enjoyed in Taiwan as a quintessential Taiwanese dish for quite some time.
- 3/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into 12 to 15 thick discs
- 12 to 15 whole cloves garlic
- 4 whole scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 to 3 small fresh red chilies, halved or sliced
- 1 cup rice wine
- 1 cup light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups packed fresh Thai basil leaves
- Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
- Add the ginger, garlic, scallions, and chilies, and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the chicken pieces and lightly brown, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the rice wine and soy sauce and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the chicken pieces are cooked through and the sauce has slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar until just dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve immediately.
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