San Choy Bow

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.

chicken san choy bow served on a plate

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!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to serve san choy bow?

Make the mix and wrap in a lettuce leaf. Often served as an appetizer, bulk this dish up or serve extra to make it a main meal.

What to do with leftover san choy bow?

The filling mixture will keep in the fridge for several days. Store in an air tight container. The lettuce leaves will not keep, so best to buy another head of lettuce when you want to eat them again.


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.

Until next time!
Love & cute, crunchy lettuce cups, Bx

chicken san choy bow served on a plate

San Choy Bow Recipe

Chinese san choy bow is delicious, nutritious, and quick to prepare. What's not to love?!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 people
Calories 170 kcal


  • wok (or frypan)


  • 1 pound ground chicken (500g)
  • 8 leaves iceberg lettuce (the smaller, inner leaves are best)
  • 1 large onion (finely diced)
  • Ā½ 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 ā€“ 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!



Please see ‘options’ heading (below) for information about how to make vegetarian, pork, or beef versions of this recipe. Also for handy hints on what you can add to make the recipe more substantial and therefore suitable as a main meal.
Keyword chicken san choy bow, chinese lettuce wraps, san choy bow

5 thoughts on “San Choy Bow”

  1. 5 stars
    SO YUM! I used to make this all the time but had forgotten about it until I saw it on your site. I’ve always made pork san choy bow but am looking forward to trying something different. I think I also used to add some hoisin sauce? Any idea if I can, and if so, how much?

    • Hi Marnie
      Thanks for your comments.
      You certainly can add in some hoisin sauce – that would be delicious! I suggest 1 teaspoonful. You could have a look at my san choy bow pork recipe for other ideas.
      Cheers, Bella x


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