Sunday 26 January 2014

Chicken, Sweet Potato & Mixed Vegetable Lettuce wraps ("Sang Choy Bau")

Sang Choi Bau
Chicken Sang Choy Bau with Sweet Potato

HEALTHY SANG CHOY BAU with chicken and sweet potato...
Sang Choy Bau is a Chinese classic commonly served as a starter all around Australia, where I grew up.  It literally translates to "lettuce wrap" and in its traditional form, is simply a lettuce cup filled with minced pork and vegetables.  These days, you will find many variations of the original recipe, from minced beef or chicken to duck or even quail meat.

In creating this recipe, I was keen to fill my Sang Choy Bau with lots of different coloured vegetables, rather than simply with meat.  So, this healthy recipe brings together lean chicken breast and everyday vegetables like carrots, celery and peppers with soy and oyster sauce to create a quick and tasty modern twist to a Chinese classic.

Serve as a Main or a starter...
Sang Choy Bau is a versatile dish which can be served as either a main or a starter.
If serving as a main, use sweet potato to make it more substantial.  As a starter, use carrots as a substitute for the sweet potato - they are less filling and add a delicious, sweet crunch.

On meatless days, I use the same recipe but simply omit the chicken - it tastes just as good!


The filling is made up of sweet potato or carrots, celery, peppers and mushrooms stir-fried together with chicken, ginger and garlic.  

The peppers, mushrooms and garlic I used are all from the Sainsbury's Basics range.  Since everything is finely diced up in this recipe, the fact that the Basics' vegetables came in a variety of sizes did not bother me.  The mushrooms added earthiness and the peppers, sweetness and crunch.

The cooked filling should always have the right balance between tender pieces of flavoursome meat and just cooked vegetables that still have a bit of crunch.  It should be moist but never soggy.

Lettuce Cup
Traditional Sang Choy Bau is usually served in iceberg lettuce cups.  Carefully separate out each leaf and trim up the larger leaves with a pair of kitchen scissors.  If you find that you have accidentally ripped them apart, simply layer the broken leaves on top of each other.

Try also Little gem lettuce, which works just as well.

You can serve the Sang Choy Bau in individual lettuce cups, or for a more casual setting, spoon the filling into a large serving bowl placed in the middle of the table, along with the lettuce cups, spring onions and coriander, so everyone can help themselves.

Chicken, Sweet Potato & Mixed Vegetable Lettuce Wraps ("Sang Choy Bau")

Serves 2 as a main
Serves 4 as a starter


150g skinless chicken breast meat, finely cubed or minced
2 medium sweet potatoes or 3 carrots, peeled and finely cubed (150g/ 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, finely sliced (130g/ approx. 1 cup)
1 large pepper, finely diced (175g/ 1 cup)
150g mushrooms, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon root ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper

3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
handful coriander, roughly chopped, for garnish
Hoisin sauce, to drizzle


Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan over a medium heat. Add the ginger, sweet potato (or carrots, if using), chicken and stir-fry for 4 minutes.  Add the cooking wine and soy sauce and allow to bubble together for 1 minute.

Add the celery, mushrooms, pepper and garlic and stir-fry for a further 4 minutes, or until liquid has nearly evaporated and sweet potato is tender.

Add spring onions and half the coriander, combine well and season with pepper.

Spoon the mixture into lettuce cups, sprinkle over remaining coriander and serve drizzled with hoisin sauce.

Thank you to Sainsbury's for sponsoring the following ingredients from their Basics range:

Basics garlic, Basics peppers, Basics mushrooms and Basics iceberg lettuce

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