San Choy Bau

San choy bau, Chinese lettuce wraps is a tasty, quick week day meal everyone will love. This dish is a delicious mix of crisp lettuce and salad fillings, with the sweet, savoury flavours of the sauce and pork mince, creating a match made in heaven. Ready for a new favourite? Let us show you!


Pork lettuce wraps

Dishing up this healthy week day dinner for the family brings back memories of one of my favourite restaurant in Sydney, where they used duck as the filling. After finishing a late shift in the kitchen, we would head into China town. I would always get half a peking duck, which would be split between duck and hoisin pancakes. The leg meat would be chopped and wok fried with water chestnuts and a splash of sauces. This was served in crisp lettuce cups with a sprinkle of fresh chilli, crushed peanuts and a dash of soy. YUM!

Ingredients

This recipe uses pork mince for the protein, but there’s lots of other options you could use. You could try roasted chopped duck, chicken or chopped prawns.

Along with the pork mince and fresh lettuce cups, we love to add other crisp ingredients. Water chestnuts, mung bean sprouts and chopped roasted peanuts, all add a delicious crunchy texture to the completed dish.

As well as those traditional ingredients, you can get creative and add a mix of what you like. We have seen a range of other ingredients in Chinese lettuce wraps:

  • grated carrot
  • tofu
  • shitake mushrooms
  • vermicelli noodles.

What is the best lettuce to use for san choy bau wraps?

We love to go for crisp and fresh lettuce. Iceberg works perfectly for this. But you can also use smaller lettuce leaves like baby gem, baby coz or softer butter lettuce. These leaves work great if you are creating shared appetizers or bite sized canapes.

How to cut lettuce for lettuce wraps?

To create the lettuce cups remove the core from your iceberg lettuce using a sharp knife or bang the base of your lettuce on the bench and twist out the core. Carefully peel away the leaves keeping them whole, give them a wash in cold water and tip upside down to allow to drain.

How to make the sauce?

This sauce is quick to make but deliciously moreish. It’s a sweet and savoury sauce with some well balanced classic Chinese flavours: light soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, a little sugar. This is thickened with a little cornflour, which also makes it coat all those other crisp fillings. Top with fresh coriander and serve with sriracha sauce or sliced chilli’s for an extra kick of heat.

Serving suggestions

This is one of those great versatile recipes, that could be lunch, dinner, a shared plater, canapes or appertizers. It all comes down to how you serve it! Keep the lettuce wraps light by just adding pork mince and sauce with water chestnuts and one of two other toppings. Or create a more satisfying dinner by adding vermicelli noodles, pork mince sauce, bean sprouts and a range of fillings we suggested above with toppings. This creates delicious lettuce wrapped noodle bowls. Served like this Kids love creating their own and its a great way to get them to eat a range of healthy ingredients.

These san choy bau, pork lettuce wraps are a quick and easy recipe to whip up for friends and family. A fun social dish but also a delicious one. Enjoy!

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Our goal is to share simple, tasty dishes created by Chef Shane and partner, Sara. Using Shane’s understanding of flavours and knowledge of food, to teach and inspire you to create delicious food everyday and gain a new level of confidence in the kitchen. Sara understands what it’s like preparing weekly dinners for a busy family of five and likes to create dishes that are easy, full of flavour and that the whole family will enjoy.

Happy cooking!

Lettuce wraps with pork mince
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

San Choy Bau

San choy bau Chinese lettuce wraps is a tasty, quick week day meal everyone will love. This dish is a delicious mix of crisp lettuce and salad fillings, with the sweet, savoury flavours of the sauce and pork mince, creating a match made in heaven.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Healthy, lettuce cups, lettuce wraps, pork mince, san choy bau
Servings: 4 – 6
Author: Shane Avant

Ingredients

  • 500 g Pork mince
  • 3 cloves Garlic Finely sliced
  • 2 inch Fresh ginger Peeled, fine grated
  • 2 stalks Spring onion Finely sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Peanut oil
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 small tin Water chestnuts Finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp Light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Caster sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Corn flour
  • 100 g Mung bean sprouts
  • 1 Head Iceberg lettuce See note 1
  • bunch Fresh coriander
  • 100 g Chopped roasted peanuts (Optional)
  • Sriracha Sauce (Optional)

Instructions

  • Heat a larger wok or pan on a high heat and add the peanut and sesame oil, Add the pork mince and break up with a wooden spoon and brown evenly
    Once browned remove from you wok and put to the side, leave the pork fat and juices in the wok, add your garlic, ginger and spring onion, wok fry for about a minute then add your pork mince back in.
  • In a bowl mix together the soy, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and cornflour into a slurry. Add the slurry to the pork mince in the wok and stir through, the cornflour will thicken the sauce around the mince.
    Add the water chestnuts, mung beans and chopped fresh coriander. Mix through well and this part is done.
  • For the lettuce cups remove the core from your ice berg lettuce using a sharp knife or bang the base of your lettuce on the bench and twist out the core.
    Carefully peel away the leaves keeping them whole, give them a wash in cold water and tip upside down to allow to drain.
  • Serve your pork mince in a bowl in the centre of the table with the lettuce cups on the side, a dish of the chopped peanuts, more fresh coriander, and the sriracha if you want to add a chilli kick to your San Choy Bau. (See note 2)
  • Let everyone create there own style of hand held goodness. Enjoy!

Notes

Note 1 – You can use iceburg or baby gem, baby coz or butter lettuce, depending on what you prefer or have available. 
Note 2 – If you are worried about stay traditional you can get creative with your fillings.  You can also try grated carrot, tofu, shitake mushrooms or vermicelli noodles.

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