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Friday, May 13, 2011

"Pock" Granny, 3-Cup Chicken & More

You may wonder why I decided to title this post with irrelevant nonsense; fortunately, the blame goes to Chinese people in the past who had much imagination and time to spare.

It has been a few days since I last walked into my kitchen. Two! To be exact. Okay, it really hasn't been that long but it sure felt like a long time. I wanted to make food I loved and missed, so I cooked two of Chinese cuisine's most popularized dishes: "Pock" Granny Tofu and 3-Cup Chicken. These go by many other names: mapo tofu, spicy tofu, hot tofu, three teacup chicken, basil chicken, etc. The tofu dish is essentially a hot and spicy tofu broth with ground meat, while the chicken dish is saucy and sharp in flavor.  

Spicy Tofu in Hollowed Rice and 3-Cup Chicken
served with Shiitake Cabbage
I hollowed out the rice and poured the spicy "Pock" Granny Tofu into the center and served the 3-Cup Chicken on the side along with more sauce. 

"Pock" Granny Tofu + 3-Cup Chicken
The dish "Pock" Granny Tofu actually comes from the story of a woman who created this delicious dish. She was nicknamed "Pock" Granny due to her age and appearance, but she was known to serve simple and flavorful dishes to travelers at her street side inn. I have always separated Chinese food in two categories: food for the poor and food for the rich. While I am sure this holds true in many cultures, it never ceases to amaze me how popular the once commoner food has become today. This tofu dish is a perfect example. In comparison, 3-Cup Chicken has a much more scientific origin behind its name. 3-Cup refers to the key ingredients and measurements of this dish - a cup (teacup back then) of sesame oil : a cup of soy sauce : a cup of rice wine. Of course, others are added (basil, spice, garlic, sugar, etc.) as people become pickier, but it started with 3 very simple ingredients. 

The way my version of this dish is meant to be eaten is to mix all the flavors together and balance them with a cup of perfectly steamed rice sitting on a bed of vegetables.  

Things just taste better when you get to be the one to mess it up!


  1. I remember eating this so long ago at a friend's house and I loved it! Yours looks even better though -- I love your presentation!

  2. I would happily eat this for lunch/dinner most days of the week. I enjoyed reading about the history of the dish, and the photos are amazing. Love the aerial perspective and lighting from that second shot. Very pro!

  3. i love the presentation!!! esp. the rice with tofu. beautiful dish!

  4. Both of these dishes look amazing! Definitely going to have to research that 3-cup chicken because it sounds delicious! =)

  5. This is a beautifully presented dish. And it sounds wonderful! Love the simplicity of the 3-cup chicken!