Chinese-inspired chicken san choy bow (also known as ‘lettuce wraps’) is delicious, nutritious, and really quick to prepare. What’s not to love about that?! Here is my chicken san choy bow recipe, but at the end I’ll add vegetarian, pork, and beef variations.
San choy bow is really versatile, which is perfect for busy people. Just by adding a few little bits and pieces, it turns easily from an appetizer into a main meal. Or if you are looking to add another appetizer to make a main meal add in my homemade bruschetta recipe or prosciutto bruschetta into the mix and you will love it.
My vegetarian friends go crazy for my vegetarian san choy bow and some of my meat eating family do not even realise it is a vegetarian dish!
Can you guess from the name where this recipe originates? (Hint: It may not be the country you think of first!) Hong Kong! The closest translation of the dish comes from Cantonese, which is spoken in Hong Kong, rather than Mandarin, which is spoken in China. The English translation of the Cantonese characters translate to ‘Sang Choi Bau’. Maybe you’ve seen that written on restaurant menus?
However, there are similar dishes in other parts of Asia. In Thailand, for example, ‘larb’ is a popular dish and very similar. Then in Laos, there is another very similar lettuce-wrapped dish called ‘laap’.
Whether you’re in Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos, or America, leftover chicken wrapped in lettuce is a good idea!
Listed below is my chicken version of the recipe, but I will also add other varieties. I have another page specifically for pork san choy bow be sure to check it out as well. Now you just have to choose what you’re in the mood for!
Chicken San Choy Bow Recipe
- wok (or frypan)
- 1 pound ground chicken (500g)
- 8 leaves iceberg lettuce (the smaller, inner leaves are best)
- 1 large onion (finely diced)
- ½ cup water chestnuts or bamboo shoots (chopped)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chicken stock (can substitute water, if necessary)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
- Heat oil in a wok or frypan, add onions and ginger and stir fry for a minute.
- Add ground chicken and stir fry for a further 3 – 4 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
- Combine starch and stock or water and pour into pan while stirring.
- Simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add water chestnuts and soy sauce and simmer for a further 1 minute.
- Place mixture into the lettuce cups and serve
- Roll up the filled lettuce cups and enjoy!
You know that I love to give you some suggestions about how to turn my recipes into your own. Here are some ideas to transform this dish from an appetizer into a main. Also, how to transform the recipe into a vegetarian dish, or a pork or beef dish.
- For a more substantial meal, you can add soaked rice noodles after the chicken is cooked.
- To make a vegetarian variety, replace the ground chicken with finely diced aubergine/ eggplant. Lightly steam the diced aubergine/ eggplant for a couple of minutes to soften it. Then add it to your wok with the onions and ginger. You can use any diced and steamed vegetable in place of the ground chicken! Try: courgette/ zucchini, sweet potato (will need longer to steam), carrots & peas, or small florets of broccoli or cauliflower. Alternatively, use tofu to add a punch of protein.
- Replace the ground chicken with ground beef or ground pork. The rest of the recipe remains the same.
- Also to add substance (and flavor), sprinkle roasted and chopped peanuts over the san choy bow before serving.
Please note: peanut allergies are real, folks, so please let your guests know if you include peanuts in any meal!
Until next time!
Love & cute, crunchy lettuce cups, Bx