Why go out when you can whip up this super tasty san choy bow recipe (Chinese lettuce cups) at home in under 30 minutes. Wrap the filling in crunchy lettuce leaves, or simply toss the mixture with noodles for a really easy main meal.
Total Time Investment: 25 Minutes
I love San Choy Bow. I find the contrast between the crisp lettuce leaves and the soft, salty filling addictive, although I have yet to master a way of eating the stuffed lettuce cups without half the juices running down my arms. Maybe I should add less filling, but where is the fun in that? Despite my fondness for this dish, I had not made it myself until quite recently. It turns out San Choy Bow is both quick and simple to make, and I am kicking myself for not learning to do so sooner.
Mr Grumpy has been complaining of late about the amount of money we spend on takeaway. Mind you, most of his complaints came the weekend after our nephew came to stay, so not only did we have an extra mouth to feed, but the mouth of a teenage boy. I don’t think we’ve been eating all that much takeaway, but in an effort take make Mr Grumpy just a little less grumpy, I’m trying to cook a bit more on weekends.No need to go out. Whip up this super tasty san choy bow #recipe in under #30minutes. Wrap in crunchy lettuce leaves for a delicious #appetizer, or toss the mixture with #noodles for an #easy #main. #glutenfree #dinner #takeout Click To Tweet
Weekends to me are a time for slowing down, so anything I cook has to be simple, delicious, and pulled together quickly with minimal effort on my part. As I am sure I am not the only one with this problem, I’ve decided to start an occasional Take-Out, Fake-Out series. My plan is to include meals capable of rivaling any takeaway. First up – my San Choy Bow recipe.
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Ingredient Substitutions for My San Choy Bow Recipe
Unlike almost everything else I cook, I rarely make substitutions in my san choy bow recipe as I love it as it is. However, don’t let that stop you making your own substitutions to cater for your own family’s preferences. Why not try the following:
- I prefer pork mince in this san choy bow recipe, but if your family does not eat pork, replace the pork mince with chicken or turkey mince. You could also try vegetarian mince to make this recipe vegetarian/vegan.
- Peanut oil is my preferred oil for Asian dishes, however if you have family allergies you could replace this with light sesame oil, coconut oil or even olive oil.
- Mix up the vegetables according to what you have on hand. Try to keep the mushrooms if you can, but you could replace the green beans with finely chopped carrots. If you use any other vegetables, and find they work well, don’t forget to let others know by dropping a comment below.
- The water chestnuts add crunch to the san choy bow mixture. If you cannot source water chestnuts, or don’t wish to use them, try finely chopped celery instead.
- If you are wanting to make this dish vegetarian/vegan, make sure you use a vegetarian oyster sauce.
Ideas for Serving Up The Best San Choy Bow
San Choy Bow is traditionally served as an appetiser, with the warm filling rolled up in lettuce cups. Served in this manner, this recipe will feed four people, assuming it is to be accompanied by other dishes. I will serve it in this manner as a main meal, because I love it so much, and the recipe is sufficient to feed the three of us generously (leaving room for dessert).
Now that I have mastered this San Choy Bow recipe, it has also started to creep into my everyday meal repertoire. I have served the lettuce cup filling over rice for a truly simple dinner. However my absolute favourite way to serve the san choy bow filling is to toss it with udon noodles for an even speedier meal. I make the filling in the wok, and then toss through a packet of long-life udon noodles or egg noodles just before serving.
I also discovered, inadvertently, that you can freeze the filling mixture. So if you happen to have leftovers, tuck them in the freezer for a super quick meal.
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Take-out, Fake-out: San Choy Bow
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
- 500 g (18 oz) pork mince or chicken mince
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 chilli finely chopped (optional)
- 150 g (2 cups) mushrooms finely chopped
- 80 g (1/2 cup) green beans finely sliced
- 3 spring onions finely sliced
- 1 small tin water chestnuts finely chopped
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) oyster sauce
- 40 ml (2 Tablespoons) light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 iceberg lettuce leaves separated, washed and dried to serve#
- Mix the garlic, ginger and chilli together. I usually do this just on the chopping board.
Mix the oyster sauce, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil together in a small bowl, and set aside.
- Heat a small amount of oil in a wok (or large fry pan) over a high heat.
- Add a third of the garlic mixture, and a third of the mince, to the wok.
- Cook the meat, stirring frequently to avoid it catching on the bottom of the wok, for 3 minutes or until the meat is just cooked. Remove the meat from the wok and set aside.
- Cook the remaining meat, using the same method, in two batches.
- Place the chopped mushrooms and spring onions in the empty wok, and stir fry over high heat for 2 minutes until softened. Add a little more oil if necessary to stop the vegetables sticking.
- Add the beans and chopped water chestnuts, and fry for a further 1 minute.
- Add the meat and any juices back to the wok.
- Pour in the oyster sauce mixture.
- Toss the meat and vegetables together for a minute, until everything is well coated in sauce and heated through.
- Remove from the heat.
- Serve in a large bowl accompanied by the lettuce leaves.
- If served as an appetiser, this recipe will be enough for 4 people, assuming it is to be accompanied by other dishes.
- If tossed through softened udon or egg noodles, this recipe will serve 4 as a main meal (assuming you add loads of noodles).
- # Omit the lettuce leaves if you are serving this as a main meal with rice or noodles.
- Nutritional information is supplied for the filling without lettuce cups or noodles.
Update notes: This post was updated on 8th May 2018 to include ingredient substitutions, serving suggestions, and nutritional analysis for the recipe.