Have you ever heard of a Chinese dish called sanbeiji or three cup? The most popular is three cup chicken. It’s a dish that’s derived from using three cups of sauces. These are soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. It’s believed that the traditional recipe calls for soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar with ginger, garlic and basil. The chicken is cooked in an earthen ware pot with the sauces until it’s all evaporated into the meat. I have had three cup squid, which was amazing. However, I have not had the pleasure of trying the chicken version.
At Yama Izakaya’s Legacy location where they serve Japanese and Chinese cuisine, my mom and I always order the three cup dish with squid, duck tongue and duck intestine. The first time I saw this on the menu it made me pause. The three proteins that make up this dish just seemed like the oddest combination. I happen to like odd combinations so I had to give it a try. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
The duck tongue and intestines are deep fried before being added with the rest of the ingredients. I am not sure about the squid. I don’t think it’s fried, but I could be wrong. The duck tongue has a nice crunch to it due to the cartilage that runs down the middle. It tastes mainly of the sauces that it’s absorbed and is a lot of fun to eat. The duck intestines have a funky taste to them. They are intestines after all, but I happen to like that taste. It has a chewy texture and the taste can be off putting to some. To be honest with you even though the menu says duck intestines I think it may actually be pork… The pieces were awfully large for duck. I could be wrong though.
The squid was cooked perfectly. It was tender and slightly chewy and not rubbery. The fried basil in this dish takes it over the top. There’s just something about fried basil leaves that makes anything amazing.
The interesting thing about the most recent time we ordered this dish is that they served the squid whole with the eggs inside them. They usually cut up larger size squid in rings and strips. I assume these smaller squids were in season which is why we got the extra treat inside. Squid eggs are one of my all time favorite things to eat so to say I was delighted about this find is an understatement.
Anyway, if you see three cup on a Chinese menu I highly recommend that you order it. You don’t have to get this version. I can vouch that the three cup squid is delicious and I’m sure the chicken is too.
This is not a three cup dish, but the ramen took such a pretty picture that I had to share!