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.


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


  • 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


  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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