San Choi Bau

11 Dec

Just looking at B’s jook made me very hungry. We call it congee here, and it is one of those wonderful foods that the late night chinese restaurants like Supper Inn do a roaring trade in. I am looking forward to making it now.

Have I mentioned how much I love that this blog makes me try out new recipes? Well… san choi bau is one of those delicious things I order whenever I see it on a menu in a Chinese restaurant, but have never made it before.


I am not going to suggest this is a 100% authentic Chinese recipe. I looked at quite a few variations, and they were all so different. The concept is a lettuce cup filled with a spoonful or two of deliciously flavoured minced meat and herbs. Add in some fried noodles for a bit of crunch if you like. You could even throw in uncooked bean shoots to get a similar effect. It seems you can use whatever meat you have on hand, pork, chicken, beef, lamb, prawns and even duck. Many recipes used oyster sauce, and I have no doubt that what I have had in restaurants, but I have yet to find an oyster sauce without that dastardly MSG, so I didn’t go that direction this time.

What I used…


Chicken mince, iceberg lettuce, bean shoots, spring onion (scallion), onion, ginger, garlic, garlic chives, water chestnuts, sesame oil, chili sauce, chinese cooking wine, pre-fried noodles, vegetable oil and some soy sauce.

I began by chopping up the onion finely, and sautéing in a pan over low heat. When translucent, I added minced ginger and garlic, and cooked for only a minute before adding the chicken mince. I turned the heat up to medium and fried until browned a little, but not fully cooked.

onionGarlicGinger chicken

I then added in the liquids; sesame oil, soy sauce, cooking wine and a dash of chili, and cooked until the liquid reduced somewhat before tossing in the chopped spring onions, water chestnuts, bean shoots and some chopped garlic chives.


At the last minute I stirred through the fried noodles then spooned the mix in to some pieces of iceberg lettuce. Some more garlic chives on top… and hey presto.


I made six largish lettuce cups, and you could probably get ten smaller ones from these quantities.

They work well as a small appetiser before a meal.


B tells me they are called lettuce wraps in the old US of A.


San Choi Bau


1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
Half an onion or three red shallots, finely diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
250g (1/2 pound) minced chicken
1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1.5 teaspoons of sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili sauce or chopped red chili (or to taste)
10 peeled water chestnuts chopped finely
1/2 cup bean shoots
2 spring onions chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic chives, half for garnish
1/2 cup fried noodles
10-ish iceberg lettuce leaves, pick the nicest shaped ones and trim them with scissors if needed

Sauté the onion over medium-low heat until translucent, and then add in the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for another minute. Add in the chicken mince and cook over medium heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon in to small pieces as it does, until it is close to cooked through. Add in the soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, and the chili. Continue to cook and let the liquid evaporate by half. Add in the water chestnuts, bean shoots, spring onions and half of the garlic chives. Cook for 4 more minutes, and then stir through the fried noodles.

Spoon the mixture in to the prepared lettuce cups, garnish with the remaining garlic chives and serve immediately.


2 Responses to “San Choi Bau”

  1. Kathy 11/12/2012 at 8:18 pm #

    Love me some lettuce wraps! Yummy!

    • Alice 11/12/2012 at 9:03 pm #

      Hope you get a chance to make them. Other than the number of ingredients, they are very simple to make. Kind of made me feel silly for not making them before.

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