San Bei Ji, which means Three Cup Chicken, is a popular dish in Jiangxi. The dish is traditionally made with one cup each of three liquids: white wine, soy sauce and sesame oil. The chicken, together with the sauce, is cooked in a claypot for an hour. When served, the chicken should be on the cusp of burning because this gives it a crisp texture. The modern version also calls for seasoning with ginger and plenty of basil.
The dish originated in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 AD). Wen Tianxiang was a prominent writer and military general famous for his loyalty and heroism. During a battle against the Mongols, Wen was captured by the enemy. Despite being tortured, Wen refused to yield. So before his execution, a sympathetic prison warden cooked the chicken dish for him using the only three ingredients he had to hand – pork fat, wine and soy sauce. After the execution the warden went back to his hometown in Jiangxi and told the story of the honourable General Wen.
Where to eat it?
Curiously enough, San Bei Ji has become a very popular dish in Taiwan and is widely available in many restaurants on the island.
If you are in Taipei, make sure you visit Shin Yeh Restaurant on Taipei 101, the island’s tallest building. The restaurant offers authentic Taiwanese food and unparalleled views of the city. Be sure to make reservations well in advance.
Address: 85/F-1, Taipei 101, No. 45 Shihfu Road, Hsinyi District. Tel: + 886 2 810-10185.
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