Who would have thought wrapping mince in lettuce leaves could make a decent meal? Scratch that, make that an absolutely delicious, fun and healthy meal! I initially titled this blog ‘Lettuce Cups’ but seriously, no one gets excited with lettuce. It’s always the sideshow, the salad filler, the garnish. Iceberg lettuce in particular is rather tasteless on its own. However, some clever chinese person came up with ‘San-Choy-Bao’ – translated literally as ‘lettuce wrap’.
It’s simple to prepare at home and makes a great starter where guests help themselves by wrapping pork or chicken mince in leaves of lettuce. There are hundreds of recipes online but I decided to cook by instinct this time.
Pork mince, carrots chopped into little cubes, water chestnuts, chinese mushrooms, soy sauce, hoisin sauce (the key condiment to this dish), chilli paste, spring onions and chopped nuts for garnishing and of course, a head of lettuce. Can’t. Go. Wrong.
There’s also something about eating with hands that makes the meal more appetising. Picture KFC’s finger-lickin’ good marketing strategy. Worked really well didn’t it? Now, San-Choy-Bao is definitely a hands-on meal. Just like eating a spring roll or souvlaki – utensils are pretty pointless. Okay then, you can now go and join the Facebook group called ‘Eating with Hands’ – I’m not kidding, it does exist.
Now the taste test. The mince should just have a little coating of sweet gravy, the carrots are cooked till soft but adds to the sweetness of the dish, aroma of the dried chinese mushrooms brings out an earthy flavour and the water chestnuts, lettuce and sprinking of chopped nuts gives the wrap that necessary crunch.
Not only is this dish delicious and healthy, it looks great too! Like a sunflower in full bloom (okay, maybe not). Since there’s another pack of mince left in the freezer, I know what I’ll be having for dinner again one day next week!