Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ginger and Wine Chicken with Thai Basil

It has been a long time since I last updated my blog as I just returned from my 3-week vacation with the family. The abundance of good (and cheap) food in Singapore and Malaysia has kept me busy, and in fact, I can't remember having gone hungry at all during those few weeks. Forget the calories, they always say enjoy yourself and eat as much as you can while you're on holidays. After all, it will be a long time before I have another holiday like that.

Now that we're all back to reality (which I must admit felt a bit strange when I first stepped into the house as it felt like I was in a new and unfamiliar place; even the floor felt different), it's time to get cooking again. We had to restock the refrigerator and pantry with basic supplies, so the first thing that came to mind was to cook some rice with chicken for the children. I came across my cousin Rachel's blog that day and she prepared a "3 Cup Chicken" ("Sam Pui Kai") dish which looked so tantalizing that I decided to cook something similar. I have heard of this dish before, but never tried it, so I don't really know what it should taste like. My version of it is pretty much the same, with a few minor tweaks here and there. I had also prepared a vinegar chilli sauce which was actually meant to be eaten with the chai poh omelette I made as a side dish. The chilli goes very well with the chicken too, and adds a little heat and zing to each bite.


600g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp thick dark soy sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing wine)
1/2 tbsp palm sugar (or substitute with white sugar)
1/4 cup water
Handful of thai basil leaves
1 red chilli, sliced (optional)

1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp cornflour

Vinegar Chilli Sauce (optional):
1 long red chilli, chopped
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
Pinch of salt


  1. Combine marinade ingredients (except cornflour) and mix it through with the chicken. Then add cornflour and coat chicken evenly. Leave in the fridge for about an hour.
  2. Heat vegetable oil and sesame oil in a wok, then add ginger, fry until fragrant and then add garlic and fry for about a minute.
  3. Add chicken and sear on high heat until lightly browned, then add dark soy and stir fry for a minute.
  4. Add light soy, wine, palm sugar and water. Stir through and simmer on low-medium heat for about half an hour or until chicken is cooked and sauce is reduced to a slightly thick gravy. Taste and adjust for seasoning if necessary. Stir in the basil leaves and chilli (if used). Remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish. Delicious served with steamed jasmine rice and some vinegar chilli.
  5. To prepare the vinegar chilli, use a mortar and pestle to pound the chilli until fine, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add more sugar/salt if necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and serve with chicken.