If this is the first time that you have heard of San Choy Bao, you have no idea what you have been missing! San choy bao is such a simple invention: quickly stir-fried mushrooms, full of flavour, and served in crunchy lettuce cups. This vegan lettuce wrap is a delicious, healthy treat with next to no carbs. Great as a snack to treat yourself, or you can impress your friends by serving them at your dinner party as an appetiser.
A Chinese recipe, san choy bao means lettuce bun or wrap. Usually, it contains pork, but I just had to come up with a vegan lettuce wrap version. So, I have used chestnut and button mushrooms. Mushrooms have a texture well suited to this recipe as a meat replacement, and they take on and compliment all the other flavours. I hope you enjoy the result!
- Iceberg lettuce
- Chestnut mushrooms
- Button mushrooms
- Spring onion
- Red chilli
- Sesame oil
- Vegetarian fish sauce
- Vegetarian stir-fry sauce
- Soya sauce
- Lime juice
- Mint leaves
See the recipe card for quantities.
First, prepare your ingredients.
Wash, pat dry and finely dice the mushrooms.
Finely chop the shallots, spring onion, ginger and garlic.
Cut the red chilli lengthways and de-seed. Finely chop the red chilli.
Crush the peanuts in a pestle and mortar, or use a rolling pin.
Heat the pan and add a tablespoon of sesame oil. Then fry the mushrooms in batches so that they fry correctly and do not release a lot of moisture. If you fry them all at once, they will end up soggy. See "top tip" below.
Add the finely chopped ginger, garlic and shallot and fry over high heat for two to three minutes.
Add the chopped chilli and fry for one minute. Then lower the heat and then add the vegetarian stir-fry sauce, vegetarian fish sauce and soya sauce. Cook for two minutes, and then add the spring onions. Mix to combine and take off the heat.
Tear the lettuce cups down the centre and place one on top of the other. Then add the mushroom mix in the centre, and top with shredded mint leaves, peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice.
Here is a video guide to making your vegan lettuce wrap.
If you don't have access to vegetarian fish sauce, you can leave it out. However, you may have to adjust the soya sauce for seasoning.
You can use red onions instead of shallots.
You can use baby gem lettuce instead of iceberg lettuce.
This recipe works well with any other vegetable if you do not wish to use mushrooms. It is essential to chop the ingredients for the filing finely. You can use squash, green bean, and carrots. However, cooking time will differ for harder vegetables, like squash and carrot, which you can blanch before stir-frying.
Stir-fried food doesn't hold very well in storage as it will lose flavour and texture when reheated. There will be a loss of moisture (if reheated in a pan), and the mix may become too dry. However, you can keep the mixture in the fridge for up to three days and either eat it cold or reheat it very quickly in a hot pan or wok with a bit of water.
Fry the mushrooms in batches in a hot wok or pan with sesame oil. Make sure you don't add too many chopped mushrooms at once; if you do, they won't get fried as desired and will release too much moisture. Consequently, the mix will end up soggy and lose flavour. Ensure that the is only a single layer of mushroom frying each time. For the quantity of mushrooms in this recipe, I cooked them in four batches in a large frying pan. Once a batch is fried, remove from the frying pan, heat the pan again and add some more sesame oil.
Vegan Lettuce Wrap Inspired By San Choy Bao.
- Digital scales
- Wok or a large frying pan
- 220 gms Chestnut mushrooms
- 400 gms Button mushrooms
- 35 gms Shallots
- 20 gms Ginger
- 10 gms Garlic
- 35 gms Spring onion 3 nos
- 1 Lime
- 5 gms Mint leaves
- 1 Red chilli
- 520 gms Iceberg lettuce 1 nos
- 50 gm Roasted peanuts
- 50 ml Sesame oil 5 tbsp
- 3 tablespoon Vegetarian stir fry sauce
- 1 tablespoon Soya sauce
- 1 teaspoon Vegetarian fish sauce
- Wash and pat dry the mushrooms.
- Cut the lettuce from the bottom and remove each layer gently so that you have lettuce cups. Wash gently and leave them to drain.
- Finely dice the mushrooms.
- Finely chop the shallots, ginger, garlic and spring onion.
- Cut the red chilli in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and finely chop.
- Crush the roasted peanuts into smaller pieces in a pestle and mortar, or use a rolling pin.
- Heat the pan until smoking hot. Add a tablespoon of sesame oil and add a portion of the mushrooms and fry until golden and dry. Fry the rest of the mushrooms in batches, heating the pan and adding oil for each set to avoid too much moisture. See top tips below
- Once all mushrooms are fried, add chopped shallots, ginger and garlic, and fry over high heat for two to three minutes.
- Add the chopped chilli and fry for a minute.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the vegetarian stir fry sauce, soya sauce and vegetarian fish sauce and mix to combine. Cook for two minutes, and then add chopped spring onion. Mix to combine and take off the heat.
- Serve the stir-fried mushrooms with the lettuce cups, mint, lime wedges and peanuts.
- Tear the lettuce cups down the centre and place one on top of the other, add the mushroom mix in the centre, and top with shredded mint leaves, peanuts and a squeeze of lime juice.
In a professional kitchen, food hygiene and safety are top priorities, and from the beginning of my training, I practised good habits and routines. Of course, practising good food hygiene and safety at home is also essential. Here are some fundamental practices to adopt in the kitchen.
- Wash your hands regularly while preparing, handling and cooking food.
- Wipe down countertops and high-contact points regularly.
- If you cook meat and fish, do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat. Use separate chopping boards for meat and fish. Wash your chopping boards immediately after use.
- Thoroughly cook food to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Don't leave food at room temperature for extended periods (more than 2 hours).
- Store food correctly.
For more details regarding food hygiene and safety in the home, visit the UK Government's Food Standards Agency webpage.