Taiwanese three cup tofu (san bei doufu)

Recipe: Three Cup Tofu, A Take on Taiwanese Chicken

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Taiwan is one of the most vegan-friendly destinations in the world and even now, nearly 6 years after my last visit, I can’t stop thinking about all the good food there.

While I never tried a vegan version of three cup chicken (san bei ji) while I was there, I read about it afterwards.

Three cup chicken is a quintessential Taiwanese dish, and it’s surprisingly easy to make.

The name comes from “one cup” each of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil (“three cups” total), although this is not strictly true.  The recipe relies on 2 parts soy sauce and 2 parts rice wine vinegar to 1 part sesame oil.

Here, I’ve reenvisioned the recipe vegan-style – with deep-fried tofu (pick it up at an Asian supermarket).  The deep-fried tofu is like a pillow, and absorbs all the liquid of the sauce.  Each time you bite into a chewy piece of tofu, some of the sauce spills out.  So in many ways I’m guessing it’s better than the original!

I’ve also added some bok choy, to get some greens – feel free to add any vegetables you want!  Your best bet is to quickly stir fry the vegetables first, then set aside, and add at the end of the dish.

Taiwanese Three Cup Tofu (San Bei Doufu)


  • Vegetable oil to coat wok
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cm cube ginger, grated
  • 400g deep fried tofu cubes
  • 4 T soy sauce
  • 4 T rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 t agave or sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil (Asian basil)
  • Bok choy or other vegetables (optional)


  1. Heat oil in the wok over medium-high heat.  If using vegetables, quickly stir fry them and set aside.
  2. In the wok, sauté garlic until just starting to brown, then add ginger and sauté until both are brown.
  3. Add in the tofu cubes, coat, and then add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and agave.
  4. Turn heat to medium high and let the sauce simmer until nearly gone, stirring occasionally to coat the tofu. Add in the chopped Thai basil, and cook until all the liquid is gone, then stir in vegetables.
  5. Serve over rice.


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2 thoughts on “Recipe: Three Cup Tofu, A Take on Taiwanese Chicken”

  1. If this is the food they serve up in Taiwan, I want to get me to Taiwan. I love all the flavours in there, and now I’m drooling a bit. I would happily drink the sauce too. Is thar wrong?!


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Caitlin Galer-Unti

Hi, I’m Caitlin and I’ve been vegan since 2008 and vegetarian my whole life. Since going vegan, I’ve lived in 4 countries and travelled to over 30! I’ve also published two bestselling vegan books (The Essential Vegan Travel Guide and The Barcelona Vegan Guide) and had my work featured in The New York Times, Vegetarian Food & Living and Vegan Life magazine. I’ve veganised my life and I’m here to help you design your life around your vegan values. 


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