This is a popular Chinese dish that's really fun to eat because you get to eat with your fingers! I started making this using Kylie Kwong's recipe from her book 'Simple Chinese Cooking', but I tend to vary it a bit every time I make it. An internet search reveals that there seems to be a consensus on the essentials of a Sung Choi Bao: sesame oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese cooking wine, ginger, garlic, bean sprouts and spring onions. It seems to be traditional to use pork mince meat, but if you don't want to use pork, it's also really good with chicken mince, and my guess is that turkey mince would work well too.
Not all recipes add other vegetables to the mix, but when they do, carrot, celery, shittake mushrooms and red onion seem to be the standard. As with most recipes, I tend to use what my family likes the most and what I have on hand. We generally don't like celery in our stir fries and I often don't have shittake mushrooms on hand. Sometimes I add finely chopped red capsicum, snow peas and I love adding purple cabbage too. All those colours make it look really spectacular. Follow this recipe as a guide and make it your own!
The other significant variation we often do with ours is add vermicelli noodles (made with mung beans), and turn it into a stir-fry eaten out of a bowl, rather than eating it out of lettuce leaves.
- 500g pork mince (preferably free-range or organic), or chicken or turkey mince
- 2 small iceberg lettuce leaves per person OR 200g vermicelli noodles
- 2 tablespoons oil (I use coconut oil, many recipes call for peanut oil)
- 2 tablespoons julienne fresh ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 red onion, cut in half and finely sliced
- 4 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine/ shao hsing wine or dry sherry
- 2 tablespoons tamari (wheat free soy)
- 2 teaspoons coconut or rapadura sugar
- 2 tablespoons gluten free oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
- 4 fresh shittake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps finely sliced
- 1 celery stick, finely sliced
- 2 small carrots, finely julienne
- 1 small red capsicum, finely sliced
- handful of snow peas, finely sliced
- 1/4 purple cabbage, finely sliced
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- extra spring onion
- a couple of hand fulls of coriander, roughly chopped
- If using lettuce, soak the individual leaves in the sink or a large bowl, covered with cold water, for at least an hour. Dry before serving.
- If using vermicelli, soak or cook according to packet instructions and set aside
- Heat the oil in a hot wok, then add the garlic, ginger and pork mince. Cook, stirring for a minute
- Add the onions and mushrooms and cook for 30 seconds
- Add the wine or sherry, tamari, sugar, oyster sauce, and sesame oil, and cook until the pork is cooked through
- Add all vegetables and toss for just a minute, so they remain quite crunchy
- If using vermicelli, add the cooked noodles to the pan and toss to mix in
- Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the excess liquid behind, and transfer to a large serving bowl. Garnish with extra spring onion and coriander
- If using the lettuce leaves, spoon filling into a lettuce leaf, fold over to enclose, pick it up and enjoy!