August 3, 2014

Three Cups Four Flavors Chicken 三杯四味雞

唯靈, Three Cups, Four Flavors, Chicken,  三杯, 四味, 雞, braised, chinese, william mark, recipe

In Hong Kong there is a small circle of venerable grey beards that are respected by all as the authorities on traditional Chinese food.  They eat and then they talk about what they eat.  What a great job, eh?!  My 老公 likes to check out what they have to say and decided the other day to try out a recipe by one of these famous Chinese food connoisseurs, a William Mark Yiu Tong, known in Chinese as 唯靈.  

This sophisticated food lover created this easy recipe for his daughter before she went off to university as both a way for his daughter to be reminded of her father and as a way for her to make new friends in a new place.  Because, as the old man stated so eloquently: memories of eating good food together is the glue that binds friends and family.  Very true, no?  

So we made his very easy to prepare recipe and we were bowled over with pure deliciousness! Seriously amazing!  These old guys really know what they are about!  We ended up eating (licking!) all of this savoury, perfectly balanced sweet and sour tender chicken dish all up just like that (and neglected the other dishes on the table!)  

This simple to prepare Three Bowls Four Flavors Chicken, or  三杯四味雞 is really out of this world!

唯靈, Three Cups, Four Flavors, Chicken,  三杯, 四味, 雞, braised, chinese, william mark, recipe
Sweet Basil, fresh from the wet market

William Mark's core food philosophy is 食不厭精,  妙在家常.  We wanted to share this with our readers because what is food without philosophy, right?!  Loving food is definitely a philosophy in it's own right.  Plus we thought his philosophy very super cool!  This two part proverb translates (roughly) thus:  One is never tired of exquisiteness in food,  Fine and special is no frills home cooking.  Hey, we can totally agree with that!

The only thing we did different to his original recipe as spoken in the video was the addition of fresh sweet basil which we found added a really wonderful depth of flavor.  Who knew that basil could be used to such effect in Chinese cuisine?  

Actually, the addition of fresh basil was inspired by the traditional Three Cups Chicken recipe which uses an equal amount of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine along with a topping of fresh basil.  For William Mark's twist on that traditional dish, the sesame oil is substituted with an equal amount of sugar and vinegar. 

Personally I love soy dishes kissed with aromatic vinegar so this easy Three Cups Four Flavors Chicken dish with its substitution of vinegar and sugar was perfectly for me.  Seriously, seriously yummilicious!  You have to try it!

Three Cups, Four Flavors, Chicken,  三杯, 四味, 雞, braised, chinese, william mark, recipe

Three Cup Four Flavors Chicken  Recipe
(Prep time: 10 mins  Cook time: 20 mins)



Mix together wine, soy sauce, vinegar and sugar.  Add 3 tbsp of this mixture and the starch to the chicken, stir throughly and let marinate for 10 minutes.  

Add oil to hot wok, then stir fry chicken over medium heat until 50% cooked and the skin is golden brown.  

Pour in the rest of the mixture, add spring onions and half of the sweet basil leaves.  When it boils, turn down to a simmer and cook covered for 15 minutes.  Garnish with the rest of your sweet basil and serve hot.

Tip:  You can easily adjust this recipe for any amount of meat you want to use.  Just keep the basic principle of three equal portions for the wine, soy sauce and vinegar/sugar.

Tip:  Cooking a braised dish like this works really well in a Chinese Clay Pot , the flavor is really improved!



  1. Love this recipe as much as I like the soy sauce chicken. Don't really like taste of vinegar so I used sesame seed oil with toasted sesame seeds and added some mushrooms for a nice earthy flavor.

  2. Thanks for this recipe! My son, a picky eater, loved it it so much that this recipe will be on rotation in our home.

    1. You made my day! There's nothing like hearing that a dish can make a picky eater change their mind! ~ellen

  3. What type of vinegar do you use? Black or sweet? Can I use apple cider?

  4. Hi Zhi Ling - we like to use rice vinegar for it's ricey, sweet, light and tangy taste but I think that black or sweet would work as well though the taste will be a bit different, more intense. ~ellen