4 min read

Thai Style San Choy Bau


san choy bau

This is my entry for this months Royal Foodie Joust. Jenn holds this monthly competition where foodie bloggers join in a “cook-off” using three ingredients. The three ingredients are chosen by the previous winner. Heather who won last months joust, chose pork or barley (for our veggie friends), citrus and peppercorns. A great combination and one that had me thinking for a few weeks. So I decided to go “Thai” and make a Chinese favourite utilising Thai ingredients! How’s that for cross cultural? By the way, if you want to participate and vote just go here. Join up and get cooking!

San choy bau is a classic Chinese dish that can be found on a lot of menus. Traditionally, its made with chicken or pork mince and uses water chestnuts in the recipe. The cooked meat mixture is then placed in iceberg lettuce cups and rolled up to be enjoyed. Its very flavourful and addictive! I decided to use this recipe by adding a few Thai ingredients to the mix. I have rambled on many times about my love of Thai food. I spend a lot of time in Bangkok and love all the flavours associated with Thai cooking. The food is spicy, sweet, sour and salty all at the same time. Your taste buds are in for an enjoyable time with Thai food. Go ahead and tantalise them!

Thai ingredients for san choy bau


N.B Some of the ingredients can be substituted if you cant find them. You can use brown sugar instead of palm and grated lime zest in place of the kaffir lime leaves.

  • 1/2 a bunch of coriander (cilantro) roots, cleaned and scrubbed
  • 2 escallots finely chopped
  • 2 whole chillies , ends removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsps of peppercorns, preferably white
  • 1/3 of a cup of tamarind puree
  • 2 tbsps of Thai fish sauce
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves finely sliced
  • 2tbps of grated palm sugar
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • peanut oil for frying
  • 250g of pork mince (not too lean…we want a little flavour here!)
  • 1/2 a cup of Thai Basil leaves
  • Freshly squeezed limes
  1. Place the above ingredients in a food processor till you achieve a lovely chunky, thick paste. Set it aside once done. Heat a wok up with some peanut oil and get it smokin! Place the paste into the wok and let it fry off. Then add the pork mince to the fried paste mixture and toss through ensuring the mixture is well combined and cooked through. Break up any lumps and continue to cook until there are no more pink bits visible. This should take no more than 10 mins. You need to work fast with a hot wok! Just before removing form the heat throw in your Thai Basil leaves and toss through. Remove from heat and leave it rest for a few moments.
  2. The iceberg lettuce cups or “wrappers” can be prepared in advance. A good tip is to leave the lettuce soak in the kitchen sink filled with water. It becomes easier to remove the leaves without breaking them. Once you have the desired amount of leaves, snip the outer edges to make cute little cups. (all the “snipped” bits can be used for a salad later). Take the pork mixture and place it in the lettuce cups. Squeeze a little lime juice on top and garnish with sliced chillies and coriander leaves.

san choy bau served in lettuce cups