My understanding is that san choi bau is a dish of Chinese origin that consists of some kind of chopped meat with vegetables wrapped in crisp lettuce leaf for ease of delivery to your face hole. Genius. After a quick Google search I can also confirm without an inkling of a doubt that this dish can be spelt more ways than the average couple has sex. Fact.
San choi bau is a dish that I make often and has made it’s way into my life under many different guises over the years. Whether it be “end of the week whatever is left in the fridge san choi bau”, or “need something quick san choi bau” or “I’ve got some prawns and I’m going to make a rocking san choi bau” or the “I quite literally only have lettuce and rice and a few condiments san choi bau”. Whatever the case it is one of those dishes that I have no set recipe for – I just kinda wing it at the time, using whatever I have on hand to it’s fullest potential, helping it to realise it’s dreams and truly be the best it can be. But, as this is not Christian youth camp and I am about as far away as one could be from being a counselor, I’ll get on with proceedings.
I think one of the most important aspects of a good san choi bau is different textures; textures to make your face sing and your belly burble in agreement. I don’t even care if this doesn’t have meat in it as long as there are some good flavours and textures… chuck some extra rice in there and I’m happy as that Larry chap everyone seems to talk about.
This post comes about at the request of our friend Sil, who was lucky enough to join us for the meal that night… actually their was a few ladies of the female persuasion present that evening. I seem to recall that no one had told me it was ladies night so I inadvertently found myself wandering amongst them, communicating with them and even socializing with them. It was a true David Attenborough moment. This was a very strange feeling indeed.
I bathed myself very thoroughly afterwards, paying special attention to my eyes and ears so as to truly cleanse myself of the things that I had seen and heard.
Here is your san choi bau, Sil.
SIMPLE SAN CHOI BAU (serves 6 girls who need to get their energy up for a big night of talking and… well, just talking best I could figure)
500g pork, beef or chicken mince (heck, you could even use turkey mince if that’s your thing)
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 capsicum (bell pepper), diced smallish
1 carrot, diced smallish or grated
1 zucchini, diced smallish or grated
½ cup peanuts, chopped
2 cups cooked rice… jasmine, basmati, brown. Probs not arborio… use your smarts kiddos
2 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon chilli in soy bean oil
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tablespoons crisp eshallots
Other things that would work well in here include water chestnuts and bamboo shoots
Iceberg lettuce (not butter lettuce, frissee or mesclun mix. Iceberg lettuce), coriander, pickled cucumber and an Asian inspired dipping sauce to serve
• Heat a splash of oil in a large pan/wok over high heat
• Stirfry the mince, onion and garlic (stirfry = hot, hot, hot, OK people?) for 3-4 minutes or until mince is cooked, set aside
• Add the ginger, vegetables and rice to the wok and toss for another minute
• Add the mince back to the wok along with the sauces, all the time keeping that wok nice and hot. Rock that shit for one more minute
• Stir through bean sprouts and crisp eshallots
• Check seasoning, adjust if necessary
• Serve in lettuce cups, dip in sauce, put in mouth. Nom nom nom