Quick & Easy Dinner Ideas Series: Chicken San Choi Bau Recipe

Recently PS and I have been cooking a lot of ‘old faithfuls’ for dinner. You know the type of recipe, ones that you know off the top of your head, can do in an instant and have it on the table in 15 minutes. As good as they are, even old faithfuls get a bit boring, particularly if you are serving them up week in week out. So I decided to change it up a little bit.

The challenge is in getting something on the table in under 30 minutes, that is both tasty and healthy. Asian food, typically, is built around this premise (quick and healthy), so I had a bit of a hunt around my recipe collection and out came san choi bau. It is a great recipe, can be done in no time at all, and the end result is delicious, crunchy and soft and hold and cold.

Chicken San Choi Bau Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 6 dried shittake mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
  • 1 tin (approx 200g) bamboo shoots, finely diced
  • 1 tin (approx 200g) water chestnuts, finely diced
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • Handful coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 600 grams minced chicken (or you could use pork)
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Chicken San Choi Bau Recipe Method

If you are planning to make this for dinner and want it to be extra speedy, you could soak the shittake mushrooms in boiling water in the morning before you leave for work and then drain them when you get home.

Cut the root end off the iceberg lettuce and remove the first few outside leaves (these are likely to be wilted, dirty and unusable). Carefully separate out the remaining leaves to form lettuce cups. Be careful at this stage not to tear the lettuce, you don’t want holes that the filling will fall out of. Rinse the lettuce under cold water, then dry well (a salad spinner works well, but you could use a clean tea towel or paper towels if you don’t have one) and chill in the fridge. Chilling the lettuce will make it crispy and crunchy, the perfect texture against the heat of the filling.

Chop all of your ingredients and place ingredients separately on a chopping board or plate (this makes it easier when you are stir frying). Stir the cornflour into the dry sherry or rice wine in a small cup. Once the lumps have dissolved, add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, salt and sugar.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frypan over high heat. Add the chicken, white part of the spring onion and celery and stir fry for a few minutes until the chicken is lightly browned (you may need to do the chicken in two batches if you pan is too small, as you don’t want it to stew). Add the bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and mushrooms. Stir fry for a further few minutes to heat through. Add the sauce liquid and stir fry quickly. Turn off the heat and add the green part of the spring onions and the coriander and stir to combine.

Arrange small bowls or ramekins on individual serving plates and fill with the hot san choi bau filling. Place lettuce cups in a bowl in the middle of the table and allow everyone to help themselves. This recipe will serve approximately 4 people as a main meal, or 6-8 as an entree; you may also like to add some steamed rice to make it a more complete meal.