Chicken San Choy Bao

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When I was in university, I worked in a Chinese restaurant as a pantry girl. I cut hundreds of san choy bao leaves each evening before meal time. It was one of the most popular dishes.  I wondered if there was such a real dish in China called the San Choy Bao – I never heard of it before.

Anyway, I made some for the school fete, a big hit. And I was happy.

Chicken San Choy Bao

 Recipe is as follow:


  • 500g chicken mince
  • 1-2 iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • a few small water chestnut (from tin), finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 small wood ear, soak in warm water for 20 minutes, finely chopped
  • 10 small Chinese mushrooms (or 5 large one), soak in wam water for 20 minutes, finely choped
  • some green shallot stalks (white part), roughly chopped
  • some coriander stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of corn kennels (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fried shallot
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • some green shallot, green part, sliced, for garnish
  • sesame seeds, to garnish


Lettuce cup

  • Use a sharp knife, cut into the core of iceberg lettuce, about 2 inches deep, in a circular motion. This should remove the inner core of the lettuce without damaging the leaves, and leave a ‘cave’ at the top of the lettuce.
  • With the ‘cave’ side up, run the lettuce under running water.  The water will loosen the leaves, and you should be able to peel the off the leaves.  Discard the most outside leaves that are not presentable, and the most inner leaves that are not smooth and tidy.   You may get about 6-10 usable leaves out of each lettuce.
  • Use a pair of scissors,  cut each piece of the lettuce into a round cup.
  • Place the cups into a container of water, cover with a damp cloth until ready to use.



Heat up a frying pan with vegetable oil;  Add onion, shallot white and stir for a minute or two; Add chicken mince, continue to stir fry until the chicken is almost cooked.  Add the remaining ingredients (except for coriander and garnish); stir fry until aromatic, break up the mince as you go, approximately 5 minutes. Turn the heat off.  Stir in coriander.


Place a lettuce cup on a plate, add about 1/2 cup of filling. Garnish with green shallot and sesame seeds.

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