San choy bau – Asian Lettuce wraps

San choy bau or Asian lettuce wraps are crunchy sweet and tangy. Absolutely perfect family dinner that is ready to be served in just 30 minutes. Let’s do it! 

San choy bau, 4 lettuce cups served on a plate with lime wedges and coriander leaves

San choy bau – Asian Lettuce wraps

By now you should know that I am a big advocate of cooking at home. It is not only the best way to avoid processed food that is usually high in salt and sugar and is full of harmful ingredients, but t is also a great way to connect with your family at the end of the day.

I can’t imagine not having dinner with my husband and children at a dinner table. It is a very special time we share. Time to connect, to talk and to listen. 

Did you know that kids who regularly have dinner with their family have better academic achievements at school? They are less likely to develop anxiety and to smoke or drink alcohol when they are teens.

And if you are looking for an easy recipe to enjoy at a family table, this San Choy Bau is a perfect choice.

San choy bau, 4 cos lettuce filled with fried chicken mince

Reasons to love this recipe

I love these Asian chicken lettuce wraps for so many reasons. They are:

  • Easy to prepare. I don’t know about you, but even though I consider myself a good cook, I absolutely love recipes that are quick and require only a handful of ingredients. Who has the time to spend in the kitchen after a long day at work and endless after-school activities? Certainly not me! That’s why I like this recipe so much. It is an easy and quick weeknight dinner that can be done in under 30 minutes. Let’s keep it simple and delicious!
  • Family and kid-friendly. This recipe was approved by my youngest son which says a lot 😉 
  • Nourishing. San Choy Bau includes protein from meat and a variety of vegetables, such as carrots, ginger, garlic, onions, and lettuce. The vegetables and chicken mince contribute to a well-rounded and nutritious meal.
  • Low-carb option: By using lettuce cups as a substitute for traditional carbohydrate-rich wrappers, San Choy Bau becomes a low-carb dish. It is a perfect choice if you are following a low-carbohydrate or keto diet. This low-calorie recipe is also great for weight loss diets.
  • Gluten-free: This recipe, like all the others on my blog, is gluten-free. However, when selecting ingredients, please ensure that you choose gluten-free alternatives such as tamari for soy sauce and gluten-free teriyaki sauce. Keep in mind that conventional sauces often contain gluten.”

Ingredients for chicken lettuce wraps

  • Mince from chicken thighs: I prefer using dark chicken mince, but if you prefer chicken breast, feel free to use that instead. Alternatively, you can also use ground turkey or ground pork.
  • Veggies: You’ll need carrots, onions, fresh ginger, and garlic.
  • Head of lettuce to make lettuce cups. The best lettuce for this recipe are cos (or Romaine lettuce), Boston lettuce, butter lettuce, or iceberg lettuce. Make sure the leaves are large enough to hold the chicken filling. Save the smaller leaves for later use by storing them in an airtight container lined with paper towels.
  • Olive oil and sesame oil. I strongly recommend not to use vegetable oils in your cooking.
ingredients needed to make San choy bau

Ingredients for San choy bau sauce

  • Teriyaki sauce. I used a gluten-free one made with coconut aminos. You can also make teriyaki sauce at home. I shared the method in my salmon teriyaki recipe.
  • Soy sauce. Use tamari if you are following a gluten-free diet.
  • Sweet chili sauce.
Ingredients needed to make San choy bau sauce

See the whole list of ingredients and the measurements in the recipe card below.

Toppings for Asian lettuce wraps

When it comes to toppings for chicken lettuce wraps, options are endless. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Crushed peanuts provide a delicious crunch and an authentic flavor to the wraps. Sprinkle them generously over the meat filling.
  • Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle some chopped cilantro, Thai basil, or mint leaves on top of your lettuce wraps.
  • Sliced Scallions: Finely chopped scallions (green onions).
  • Chili Flakes or hot sauce such as sriracha. This chicken lettuce wrap recipe isn’t spicy. I adjusted the spiciness to accommodate families with young kids. However, If you enjoy some heat, a sprinkle of chili flakes or a drizzle of sriracha sauce will add a nice kick to your lettuce wraps. 
  • Lime Wedges: Serve your lettuce wraps with lime wedges on the side. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the wraps just before eating, soo good!

How to make chicken lettuce wraps

Making these delicious chicken wraps is very straightforward. The key is to prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking.

Begin by peeling and dicing the carrots and onions. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger. Mix the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Once you have everything ready, you are all set to start cooking. Let’s get started!

  • Heat a combination of olive oil and sesame oil in a wok or a very large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the diced vegetables to the pan and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until they have softened and become aromatic.
  • Next, add the ground chicken to the pan and stir-fry, breaking up the meat as you go. Continue cooking for 6 to 8 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
  • Pour the prepared sauce into the pan and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the sauce starts to caramelize.
  • Remove the wok from the heat and let the chicken mixture cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooling, prepare the lettuce leaves by washing and drying them.
  • Place the chicken mixture into the lettuce cups and top with your favorite toppings.
  • Serve with lime wedges or a dipping sauce of your choice. Enjoy!

Ingredients for dipping sauce and how to make it.

The dipping sauce is optional, but if you have an extra 2 minutes, it makes a great addition.

Ingredients:

  • Limes
  • Sweet chili sauce

Optional: Add some red pepper flakes if you want to add even more heat.

Instructions:

  1. Squeeze fresh lime juice into a small bowl.
  2. Add sweet chili sauce to the bowl.
  3. Mix the lime juice and sweet chili sauce together.
  4. Serve the dipping sauce alongside the chicken wraps.

Enjoy!

close up shot at Asian chicken lettuce cups

How to store

If you happen to have some leftovers or were smart enough and cooked a double batch, you can store the chicken mixture for later use.

Refrigerate

  • Place the chicken mixture in an airtight container and refrigerate it.
  • It will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • When ready to serve, simply reheat it in a frying pan with a splash of water or olive oil.
  • Serve the reheated mixture in fresh lettuce cups.

Freeze

  • You can also freeze the cooked chicken in a freezer-safe container.
  • It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To use the frozen chicken, defrost it in the fridge overnight.
  • Reheat it in a frying pan as mentioned above.

More family-friendly and simple recipes


If you enjoyed this Asian lettuce wrap recipe and found it to be a great dinner, I would so appreciate it if you could leave a star rating and a comment at the end of the post.

Your feedback is valuable to me. Additionally, feel free to let me know what you would like me to cook next time. I love hearing from you.

Furthermore, I have a collection of recipes, each offering a better option compared to any takeaway. Feel free to explore and try them out as well.

Have a great day and happy cooking!

three lettuce wraps filled with chicken mince San choy bau

San Choy Bau – Asian Lettuce Wraps

Elena Elliott
San Choy Bau is a perfect family dinner.
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course dinner
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 12 lettuce leaves such as boston, cos or iceberg
  • 800 grams chicken mince meat. I recommend using thigh mince. Feel free to use pork or veal mince instead.
  • 1 brown onion finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot peeled and finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 cm fresh ginger minced or finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

San Choy Bau sauce

  • 1/4 gluten-free teriyaki sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce adjust the spiciness acording to your taste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce I use tamari, because it is gluten-free

Topics

  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 4 green onions, scallions to garnish (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh coriander leaves to serve
  • fresh chili, finely sliced to serve
  • 2 limes cut in wedges

Instructions
 

  • In a small mixing bowl, combine the San Choy Bau sauce ingredients such as teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and sweet chili sauce. Mix them together well and set the sauce aside.
  • Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add extra virgin olive oil and sesame oil to the wok.
  • Add the carrots, onions, garlic, and ginger to the pan, and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables have softened and become aromatic.
  • Add the chicken mince (or pork/veal mince if using), breaking up any lumps, and stir-fry for 5-7 minutes until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
  • Stir in the San Choy Bau sauce to the chicken and vegetable mix, stirring well, and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Take the wok of the stove and let the chicken cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Prepare the lettuce leaves by washing and rying them.

How to serve san choy bau

  • Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the mixture into a lettuce cup, top it with fresh coriander, scallions, chilies, and peanuts.
  • Serve with a lime wedge on a side. Enjoy!

Notes

You can use pork or veal mince if you prefer.
Adjust the amount of sweet chili sauce according to your taste. Keep in mind that some sweet chili sauces can be quite spicy and may not be suitable for young children. For serving San Choy Bau to little kids, I recommend using about half a teaspoon of sweet chili sauce.
If you have some extra time, you can mix the juice from 2 limes with a teaspoon of sweet chili sauce to create a delicious dressing for your lettuce cups.
Boston lettuce, iceberg lettuce, or cos lettuce are all great options to use.
Do not use peanuts if serving the lettuce cups to someone with a peanut allergy.
Keyword chinese lettuce cups, san choy bau
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Lovely low-carb dinner, and surprisingly filling too! My husband and I really enjoyed the teriyaki flavour with a very subtle hind of sesame oil. 10 out of 10 for the recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    Love this SAN CHOY BAU – ASIAN LETTUCE WRAPS recipe, they look so delicious and we love to eat them, now I will know how to make it and easy recipe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

5 from 7 votes (1 rating without comment)

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