Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand - Mother Teresa


San Choy Bau is fried mince with a few other ingredients and wrapped in lettuce leaves. If you’re in a rush and in need of a filling healthy meal, San Choy Bau will become a favourite mid week dinner. Not only do many variations to spelling san/sang choy/choi bau/bow exist, upon research it is difficult to correctly determine the country of origin; although it’s a popular dish in many Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants.

Since my blog is plant based, I’ve obviously not made the dish with the usual pork or chicken, instead, I used firm minced tofu and shiitake mushrooms and added red capsicum and corn kernels, as I love fresh vegetables, which are an optional addition. If vegetables are something you’d love to add, variations could include diced zucchini or carrot, or sliced green beans. A note about using shiitake mushrooms; if you can’t buy them or think they’re too expensive, swiss brown mushrooms are an alternative. The flavours of both mushrooms are similar being meaty in texture and earthy in taste, although the shiitake are more woodsy in flavour. For this dish to be successful, you need to include a little chili for heat, even if you’re not a convert. Hubby dislikes chili in his Asian food, yet likes a wee bit of chili in his San Choy Bau. I’m often in too much of a hurry to give my cos lettuce an ice bath, instead I wash the cups, which I’ve taken out of the fridge, wash and dry them and return to the fridge to keep cold. I find this works equally well.

Health benefits:

·       Tofu, which is made from soybean curds, is naturally gluten-free and low calorie; it contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of protein, iron, calcium and vitamin E.

·       The health benefits of tofu regularly, helps lower bad cholesterol, alleviates symptoms associated with menopause and even lowers the risk of cancer.

·       Other major health benefits of tofu compared to meat include making middle-aged bones stronger and delaying the ravages of age. 


Serves 4 people with 2 lettuce cups each



1-2 tablespoon oil

1 clove garlic, minced

2 spring onions, finely sliced

2 cm piece ginger, grated

¼ chili, to taste, deseeded and finely diced, optional

100 grams mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 cup canned water chestnuts, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tamari, to taste

3 tablespoons hoisin

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

½ tablespoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon lime juice, (1 lime)

500 grams firm tofu, minced with a fork

½ small red capsicum, finely diced

1 corncob, kernels removed

To serve:

8 cos lettuce cups

4 springs coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped leaves

fresh bean shoots

chili, finely sliced (optional for chili lovers)

Prepare the cos lettuce cups by selecting the best leaves, wash, place in a bowl of iced water for 10 minutes to allow the leaves become crisp. Prepare all the ingredients. Heat a large saucepan on medium heat. When hot, add oil, garlic, spring onions, ginger, chili and fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and continue to cook for about 5 minutes until the mushroom juice has evaporated. Add tamari, hoisin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, coconut oil and lime juice to deglaze the pan, while scraping the bottom of the pan to lift the caramelised flavours. Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the minced tofu, diced capsicum and corn kernels. Cool the mixture for about 5 minutes. Pat dry the lettuce cups, and place on a platter with small bowls of coriander, bean shoots and chili. Let everyone spoon the filling into the lettuce cups and garnish with coriander, bean shoots and chili.

Roll up and enjoy!