Recipe: Caramelised pork san choy bow (filled lettuce cups)

By playing around with the ingredients, this recipe can be as simple or as complicated as you want. This is the complicated version but I rarely use all the ingredients (as you can see in the image below) as it tastes almost as good with only half the ingredients! I almost never bother with the rice noodle but it does make the dish slightly fancier. To save time, you could use frozen vegetables at step 5 (finely chopped peas, carrot, corn) and do away with the carrot, water chestnuts and all the garnish ingredients.

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Main ingredients

  • 350g lean finely ground pork (you could substitute with chicken mince)
  • 1 small can of water chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • Piece of ginger approx 10 cm long, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp corn flour mixed with 4 tbsp water
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Small amount of dry rice noodle

Wet ingredients

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp shao xing rice wine
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

Garnish

  • 1 bunch coriander, leaves picked
  • 6 spring onions, finely sliced on the angle
  • Ground peanuts
  • Desiccated coconut

Optional ingredients

  • 10 fresh shitake mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 large red chillies, cut on the angle
  • Rice to serve

Method

  1. If serving with rice, cook the rice now.
  1. Gently separate the lettuce leaves and trim them to create cups. Soak the lettuce cups in cold water in the fridge to ensure the leaves are crisp. Peel the carrot with a vegetable peeler into long strips, then cut the strips in half lengthways and finely slice. Set aside.
  1. Heat wok or frypan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp oil to wok. Add rice noodles. Flip over. Once the noodles have puffed up, remove from wok and set aside. Add 1 tbsp oil to wok. Add dessicated coconut. Remove from pan and set aside.
  1. Add 1 tbsp oil. Brown pork (or chicken) mince on high heat. Add sugar. When lightly caramelised, add soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine, sesame oil. Simmer and then remove from pan with slotted spoon.
  1. Heat wok or pan over a high heat. Add 2 tbsp oil. Add ginger. Add garlic. Cook for 20 seconds. Add water chestnuts, carrot, (if using optional ingredients, add them here). Cook for another 15 seconds.
  1. Return the mince back to the pan. Add the corn flour mixture and mix consistently for another 30 seconds. Add most of the spring onion and the coriander (leaving some for garnish). Remove from the heat.
  1. Divide the mince mixture between the lettuce cups and garnish with the rice noodle, ground peanuts, desiccated coconut, and remaining spring onion and coriander.
  1. Serve as is or with a bowl of steamed rice for a substantial meal for 4 people.

Let me know in the comments below if you do a different version of san choy bow or how you went with my caramelised pork san choy bow recipe!

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Review: Maple and Clove, Barton, Canberra

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I'm fairly new to this clean eating business. I went to the new wholefoods cafe in Braddon Eighty Twenty a while back and made friends with salad. Health food cafes like Eighty Twenty and Local Press Cafe are becoming very popular. I discovered another one in Barton recently. Maple and Clove has an emphasis on nourishing, handmade wholefoods - nature's produce eaten as close as possible to their natural state with little or no refinement or processing. A monochrome interior with matching chairs, tables, cups and plates keeps the decor simple and casual, while the marble walls and long tables give the cafe a luxe feel. Floor to ceiling folding glass doors - allow the place to be filled with natural light and a viney plant wall spells eco-trendy.

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Their menu includes all day breakfast, which I couldn't wait to tuck into. I ordered the zucchini and corn fritters $16.50, which was served on a bed of greens drizzled with natural yoghurt.

The light and fluffy fritters weren't at all oily. In fact, they were very much like a savoury version of my friend's pancakes. The delicate greens were a highlight - lightly cooked, the baby spinach was soft and subtle in flavour.

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The_Food_Avenue_Maple_and_clove3

My friend had the spelt pancake stack with whipped maple ricotta, served with fresh strawberries, and topped with shredded coconut $17.50. I had a taste and the pancakes were very light and fluffy and perfectly round! The berry jam/sauce was to die for - concentrated fruit flavour and a hint of sweetness. They should bottle that and sell it. It's gold.

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They also do a range of other breakfasts including maple porridge, granola, banana bread and of course, variations of eggs and bacon.

Matcha latte is on the menu and they were out on the day I visited, but I will definitely be back to try this out! I settled for a lovely flat white instead.

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Maple and Clove serve lunch from 12pm - 3pm daily, including light meals, open-faced sandwiches, salads, burgers and even a curry of the day.

The dessert offerings looked highly appealing, especially as they're almost guilt-free! (naturally sweetened with low GI sweeteners)

The Low-Down on Maple and Clove Cuisine: Wholefoods cafe What I loved: Spelt pancakes, Corn and zucchini fritters Best for: Breakfast or lunch with friends, family or date

Phone: 02 6162 0777 Address: Realm Park, 7 Burbury Close, Barton ACT Website: http://mapleandclove.com.au/ Open: Mon-Wed 7.00am-3.00pm, Thurs+Fri 7.00am-5.00pm, Sat+Sun 7.30am-3.30pm

Maple & Clove on Urbanspoon

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Review: Eighty/Twenty, Braddon, Canberra

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Fresh, nutritious, wholesome, healthy food. Doesn't sound like the kind of thing a 'bacon waffles and fried chicken' kinda girl like me would be into for brunch. And yet...this new cafe might have just about convinced me to make friends with salad. But we'll get to that part later. Eighty/Twenty Food is the latest newcomer to join the Lonsdale street restaurant strip in Braddon. Just when I thought the suburb had hit cafe saturation point, I was proved wrong.

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The_Food_Avenue_EightyTwenty6

This particular Braddon cafe has a point of difference - a focus on wholefoods and balanced eating. Run by sisters, Klarisa Cengic and Tihana Ravanparsa, their food philosophy is "Eat well 80%. Indulge 20%. Happy 100%". Oops! All this time, I've been eating well 20% of the time and indulging the other 80%!

Located on the corner of Lonsdale and Eloura streets (opposite the other numerically-named eatery Eighty-Six), Eighty Twenty has a very chic and monochrome interior. I loved the black shiny tiles in a diagonal pattern and the copper light fixtures. Very cool.

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The_Food_Avenue_EightyTwenty7

Perusing the menu, I noticed a variety of The Fix cold press juices, but it was the intriguing smoothie menu that enticed me to read more. The Matcha Immunitea smoothie (matcha, mango, almond milk, coconut flesh, and coconut nectar) definitely caught my eye. I love matcha flavoured drinks, but I didn't think green tea was going to cut it this morning. I needed coffee. Bad.

I considered the Coffee + Cacao smoothie but the Nutty Professor won my heart. Despite being run off their feet with a sudden explosion of people in the cafe, the person taking my order didn't even blink when I asked if I could have my Nutty Professor smoothie with coffee. She seemed completely unphased by my fussy order and put it through with no extra charge. I was impressed.

Pretty much a meal in itself, the Nutty Professor smoothie ($8) was sensational. I knew it would be when I read the ingredients listed: cacao, milk (or milk alternative), banana, peanut butter, maca. Well actually, I had no idea what maca was, but I was willing to live on the wild side and take a risk. Later on, I asked Google. It turns out, maca is a root originally from the mountains of Peru and has been called the 'Peruvian ginseng'. Apparently it has been highly regarded for centuries as a miracle food and is the latest superfood to add to smoothies.

I loved the visual presentation and textural element of the cacao nibs (cacao beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks and broken into smaller pieces). I stirred the cacao nibs through the drink and got a deliciously crunchy peanut butter smoothie. This clean eating business was off to a good start.

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The_Food_Avenue_EightyTwenty

Then came possibly the most beautiful porridge I've ever seen. The Quinoa porridge ($9.50) was sprinkled with pretty edible flower petals. The poached fruit and the crushed pistachios were perfect additions to the dish.

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My patient friends very kindly let me take photos of their dishes! Between all of us, we covered almost every item on the menu!

Kale and sweet potato rosti with poached egg, pesto oil and blistered cherry tomatoes ($14.50). I had a small bite of the rosti and vowed to get this dish next time I come back!

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The_Food_Avenue_EightyTwenty3

The '80' Bowl: kale, watercress, rainbow chard, radish, cauliflower crumb, soft poached egg and grilled king trout ($17.50). I pinched a bit of the king trout and it flaked away beautifully. Cooked medium rare, the trout was tender and full of flavour.

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Poached free range eggs on toast ($8), with a side of king trout ($6) and mushroom medley ($3.5). Total came to $17.50. The toast was left unbuttered, which got a tick from my friend.

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The_Food_Avenue_EightyTwenty5

Dukkah spiced eggs with flat bread, hummus, house made labna and charred eggplant, capsicum and parsley salad ($14.50)

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The_Food_Avenue_EightyTwenty36

I noticed sparkling water served with every dine-in espresso - a sign they're serious about their coffee! (A sip of the sparkling water is used to cleanse the palate before having a sip of the espresso. If the coffee is good, finish off the water and then enjoy the rest of the espresso. If the coffee isn't good, finish off the espresso and use the rest of the sparkling water to cleanse your palate. Thanks again, Google!)

Except for the '20' Bun, everything else on the breakfast menu is pretty much vegetarian and gluten free. For those on the paleo diet, the menu also notes whether an item is paleo or not. Picky foodies all around can rejoice! The price point is excellent too. For the quality of ingredients you get, the prices are very reasonable and that makes me happy.

What I'm coming back for: poached eggs on toast with a side (or two) of king trout and blistered cherry tomatoes. The Glow Pro smoothie looked amazing, so that's on the list too.

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The Low-Down on Eighty Twenty Eatery type: Health food cafe What to order: Kale & sweet potato rosti, Nutty Professor smoothie. I'd also recommend getting a side of king trout with anything you've ordered. Best for: Health-conscious brunchers (especially those who are vegetarians and/or gluten intolerant). Or a smoothie date with the bestie. x

Website: http://www.eightytwentyfood.com.au/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eightytwentyfood Phone: 02 6247 2866 Email: info@eightytwentyfood.com.au Address: 1/8 Lonsdale Street, Braddon, ACT 2612 Open: Monday to Saturday 6am - 4pm. Sunday 7am - 4pm. They only take bookings of 6 people or more.

Eighty/Twenty on Urbanspoon

First look: Local Press Cafe, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

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After my first visit to Local Press in Kingston, I was kicking myself for not discovering this gorgeous cafe earlier. I was impressed immediately by the decor as my dining companion and I entered the cafe. The rustic and creative furniture complements the artfully distressed walls to create a very funky vibe. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cute cushions, cool knick knacks and nautical-themed accents adorn the cafe.

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The kitchen door is the most unique kitchen door I've ever seen!

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Showcasing what they're all about, boxes of fresh produce line the floor under the counter and platters of fruit are scattered around the cafe.

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The whole cafe is very open and the glass windows allow an abundance of sunshine into the cafe, adding to the wholesome atmosphere.

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You can see right into the kitchen as well!

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Local Press Cafe is a favourite amongst Canberra bloggers. It's easy to see why. Local Press has a very natural yet cosy atmosphere, not to mention very friendly staff who look like they love to work in the cafe. Brian efficiently took our orders on an iPad, and gave us a huge smile for absolutely no charge!

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We ordered some chai tea, which came in a teapot and a delightfully cute tea cosy!

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The cold pressed beetroot juice sounded too good to pass up! And I wasn't disappointed. The colour was gorgeous and it was absolutely delicious - the beetroot flavour surprisingly subtle and sweet.

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This cafe is utterly instagrammable!

I ordered the Green Breaky Plate ($18), which consisted of Za'atar coated boiled eggs with kale, salmon, quinoa, avocado, asparagus and goats cheese. The chefs here clearly know how to make healthy food taste good. This dish was a cleverly orchestrated mix of fresh ingredients. Much consideration had been given to the flavours of the dish as well as making sure there were crunchy and creamy textural elements.

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My dining companion ordered the Green Pea Pancake ($16) - poached eggs, guacamole, crushed feta, mint and chives dressed with house pomegranate-balsamic reduction. I will definitely be back to try this dish next time.

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I was highly impressed by how much thought has been put into every aspect of this cafe - the decor, the food, the drinks, and the service. And we seriously considered staying on for lunch when we had a sneak peek at the lunch menu. I'm sure I won't be able to stay away from this lovely cafe for long!

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Local Press Cafe on Urbanspoon