Friday, 31 August 2012

San Choy Bao - Chinese style Lettuce Cups

San Choy Bao is a classic Chinese dish; a nice, refreshing, light meal that can be served both as an appetiser and a main course - a dish that is equally loved by young ones and old alike. Crispy, ice cold lettuce cups filled with a warm flavourful filling of minced turkey and vegetables makes it a balanced nutritious meal. It is quick and easy to prepare and at the same time a fun dish because it involves a little bit of playing and messing around - you have to assemble the ingredients to make your own cups to chomp down!

You first bite into cold refreshing lettuce cups and soon chew into hot, tangy turkey mince, crispy bean sprouts, delicate wonton skins and spicy fried eschallots, with bits of crunchy water chestnuts, hints of mushrooms, bamboo shoots, zucchini and carrot and finally the delightfully aromatic jasmine rice.

Light, crispy and crunchy - hot and cold at the same time - you'll keep asking for more!!!!

This is a simple and versatile dish which is open to diverse interpretations based on taste preferences. The recipe here has been adapted from The Cookbook - My Kitchen Rules (2011).

Serves: 8 as appetiser / 4 - 6 as main course
Preparation Time: 40 minutes + time to marinate
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

  • 2 - 21/2 cups cooked jasmine rice
  • 12 - 16 wonton skins, each cut into 2 triangles
  • oil for deep-frying
  • 1 baby cos lettuce, leaves separated
  • 100g bean shoots, to serve
  • fried eschallots, to serve
  • a bowl of ice-cold water half-filled with ice
For the filling
  • 500g minced turkey (can substitute with minced chicken or pork)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 2 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 chilly, finely chopped
  • 225g can water chestnuts, drained, washed and chopped
  • 225g can bamboo shoots, drained, washed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 small red capsicum, finely diced
  • 1 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 100g enoki mushrooms, separated
  • 100g shitake mushrooms, sliced
1. Combine minced turkey with 1 tbsp dark soy sauce and 1 clove of minced garlic in a bowl. Cover with food wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but no more than 1 hr to marinate.
2. Heat cooking oil in cooking pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, ginger, chilly and remaining garlic, then cook, stirring, until fragrant and softened. Add turkey mixture and cook until browned. Stir in water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, remaining soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Toss in remaining vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. The mixture should be semi-dry. (Add 2 tsp of cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water in the end if there is too much moisture in the mixture).
3. In the meantime, deep-fry wonton skins in oil over medium heat until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels and keep aside.
To assemble
Plunge lettuce leaves into ice-cold water for 30 seconds to 1 minute just before serving. Turkey filling and rice should be hot.

Place a thin layer of jasmine rice in each lettuce leaf. Top with turkey filling, then a few bean shoots and fried eschallots. Serve with wonton skins.

Sending this Julie's Flavours of Cuisines: Chinese Event


  1. Looks yummy and tempting. Love these kind of simple, nutritious and wholesome dishes.
    I would like to invite you to my bloghop, Cook like a Star. The theme for the event is Masterchef. You can check out the details here
    Do join us in this fun blog hop.

    1. Thanks for the invitation Anuja. It is my first and I hope to do my best.

  2. looks so healthy & delicious...mouthwatering!

    1. Yes it, Kalyan. You should give it a go if you like chinese...

  3. Di, thx for sharing this. Looking foward to make it -BZ

  4. Cutee cups..Thanx a lot,Jannet for linking to the event:)