Ahhh… San choy bow. The delicious Asian lettuce cups with more names than you can poke a stick at. San choi bao. San or sang. Tom-may-to tom-mah-to!!! It really depends on where you are, where you order it from and perhaps the mood of the menu author at the time. It’s all a westernised version of 生菜包 or shēngcàibāo, basically meaning “lettuce wrap.” Regardless, it is a tasty morsel of lettuce enveloping minced meat, water chestnuts and bean sprouts mainly, but just as the name is varied, so can the fillings. My introduction to this dish would have been at the local Chinese restaurant back home in Australia, and then later with the home-kits that were sold in the local supermarket. Since then it has been frequently made over the years, purely because it is so simple to make, super quick and super tasty. This is my variation on it, because sometimes you just don’t want to get your hands dirty, although making this as the lettuce wraps are just as delicious (just omit the dressing.) Serves 2.
Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking: 10 mins
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 500g beef mince (or turkey mince or firm tofu*)
- 100g of vegetable of choice (julienned carrot, thinly sliced mangetout/ snow peas, diced mushrooms)
- 1/2 tin of water chestnuts
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- Two handfuls of bean sprouts
- 2 gem lettuce or baby cos lettuce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
- Place a frying pan over a high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil and then the mince. Leave to brown for approximately 2-3 minutes, then using a wooden spoon, break up the mince and turn. If using tofu, begin breaking it up as soon as it hits the pan.
- Add vegetable of your choice and stir fry for two minutes.
- Add water chestnuts, hoisin sauce and one handful of bean sprouts and stir till well combined. Cook for another two minutes or until warmed through. Allow to cool slightly.
- Slice the lettuce, 1cm in thickness. Discard the ends.
- Add the lettuce to your bowls.
- Combine the rice wine vinegar and sesame oil in a glass and stir. Pour over the lettuce.
- Top with the mince/ tofu mixture, a handful of beansprouts and the crushed peanuts.
- Serve and enjoy!
*Tofu generally comes in 350-400g packaging. Add an extra 100-150g of vegetables of your choice.