Chefs' Recipes

Tony Tan's three-cup calamari

A Taiwanese take on the classic three-cup chicken: just flash-fry the calamari with rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil, and dinner's ready.

By Tony Tan
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
  • Print
"This Taiwanese dish is a take on the classic three-cup chicken, which can be traced back to the Song dynasty in the Chinese province of Jiangxi. As legend has it, the dish was created by a prison guard as a last meal for a Chinese hero before his execution," says Melbourne chef Tony Tan. "The name refers to the typical recipe quantities: three cups each of rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil. I suggest flash-frying the calamari in a super-hot pan or wok, as it turns rubbery if it's not cooked quickly. Once the sauce is reduced, return the calamari to the pan to warm through."


  • 500 gm cleaned calamari (about 6 small), tentacles reserved
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 20 gm ginger, cut into julienne
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 long red chillies, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml (½ cup) Shaoxing wine
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) salt-reduced light soy sauce (or to taste; see note)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar (or to taste)
  • Thai basil and steamed rice, to serve


  • 1
    Halve calamari hoods lengthways, score the inside in a crosshatch pattern and cut into 4cm x 6cm strips. Heat half the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add half the calamari and stir-fry until opaque and just cooked (2 minutes). Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining vegetable oil and calamari.
  • 2
    Rinse wok and wipe dry with paper towel. Return to high heat until hot, add sesame oil, ginger, garlic and chilli and stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds). Add Shaoxing wine, soy sauce and sugar, bring to the boil and boil until reduced by half (3-4 minutes). Return calamari to wok and stir to warm through. Remove from heat and stir in the Thai basil. Serve immediately with steamed rice.


Some Chinese sesame oil is overtoasted which could make the dish bitter. I prefer brands from Japan, Korea or Malaysia. Using salt-reduced soy sauce is important so this dish is not too salty – if you don't have it, use less than a ¼ cup light soy and add a drop of dark soy for colour.
Drink suggestion: Oyster stout. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.

  • undefined: Tony Tan