1 small head of iceberg, cos or butter lettuce
1 tbsp malt vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp peanut oil
small knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 small red onion or a few spring onions, thinly sliced
handful mushrooms, diced or sliced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
100g firm tofu, finely diced
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 tbsp Chinese rice wine (shaohsing) or dry sherry
2 wombok leaves (Chinese cabbage), finely shredded
Optional extras – spring onions, more fresh chilli, coriander, sprouts, vietnamese mint, chives…
Delicious little parcels that are endlessly versatile, these are great for making use of what’s at hand. Transform your lonely carrot and celery, the last wedge of cabbage or the remnant tofu with crispy lettuce, herbs and a quick but fabulous dressing.
I’m sharing a recipe adapted from this one by Kylie Kwong, which uses dried shiitake, plus bean shoots and cabbage. I’ve used brown mushrooms and tofu for oomph in leu of her dried shiitake, as that was what I had, and veggies from the fridge that needed using – I don’t think you can go too wrong… create your own variations, drizzle with yummy sauce and wrap it up in herbs and a fresh green leaf.
Veggie san choi bau
Soak your lettuce in water (and in the fridge) to help crisp up and make it easier to separate the leaves. A head of iceberg or butter lettuce will work, just something crisp to make a leafy cup.
Whisk together the dressing, combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a wok or pan over a high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, onion and mushrooms and stir for 1 minute.
Add the carrots, celery and tofu, cook for 1 minute, then add the rice wine (or sherry) and reduce for 30 seconds. Stir through the cabbage and chilli (if using) for another minute.
Divide the lettuce in to cups and spoon in a small pile of veggies, topping with one or two extras and lashings of the dressing.