Pork Lettuce Wrap (San Choy Bow)

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A super easy and fast  San Choy Bow, or pork lettuce wrap recipe, that features tender pork and crisp vegetables brought together with a scrumptious brown sauce served on lettuce leaves. Make a light healthy meal or complete your Chinese dinner with this colorful dish! {Gluten-Free adaptable}

San choy bow made with pork, pepper, and water chestnut

San choy bow, or pork lettuce wrap is becoming a popular appetizer in the US. The dish is made with minced pork (and sometimes chicken or tofu) stir fried with various vegetable ingredients to create a fun texture, and then finished up with a brown sauce that’s slightly sweet. It’s served on lettuce leaves as a bite-size appetizer.

Ingredients 

I love to make san choy bow at home because it is extremely fast and easy to make and uses mostly pantry ingredients.

The sauce

There are many ways to make a delicious brown sauce. To create the most flavorful and balanced sauce for san choy bow, my secret ingredients are oyster sauce and Shaoxing wine. Both add a complex umami to the dish, lending it more depth of flavor. They balance very well with the hoisin sauce to create a sauce that’s not too sweet, just the way I like it.

The filling

A good san choy bow has a fun texture from the tender juicy pork and crispy crunchy vegetables. There are many options when it comes to the selection of vegetables, but my favorite ones include onion, pepper, and water chestnut. 

The water chestnuts are very important because of their crispness, which adds textural contrast to the dish. You can easily find the canned ones at most grocery stores these days, in the ethnic or Asian aisle. Bamboo shoots are a great alternative as well if you cannot find water chestnuts.

Scooping up Chinese pork lettuce wrap

Mise en place

When you’re ready to cook, your table should have:

Lettuce leaves, mixed sauce, ground pork, chopped onion, garlic and ginger on a plate, chopped peppers and water chestnuts, and roast peanuts.

I like to group ingredients together according to the recipe, which makes the cooking and cleanup easier.

Ingredients for making san choy bow
Chinese pork lettuce wrap close-up

How to cook San Choy Bow

To cook san choy bow:

  1. Brown the pork in a hot pan. I like to use my large carbon steel pan to brown the pork nicely. 
  2. Push the pork to one side of the pan, add the onion, garlic and ginger to the other side and cook briefly.
  3. Add the sauce to the pork side and mix it in.
  4. Then mix everything together.
  5. Add the rest of the vegetables and cook briefly.
  6. Now you can transfer everything to a plate to cool slightly before serving.
How to cook san choy bow step-by-step

How to serve San Choy Bow

The filling for san choy bow is so versatile that you can use it in/on almost anything.

  • Wrap it up using lettuce leaves to make a healthy meal or appetizer
  • Use the pork filling and a lettuce leaf over moo shu pancake or tortillas to make a more filling wrap
  • Add the filling onto steamed rice to make a rice bowl
  • Add the filling over a super simple noodle soup to make the meal more substantial

You can always add extra hoisin sauce or chili garlic sauce on the side, if you prefer. Although I think this dish is super flavorful and tastes great without additional sauces.

San choy bow freezes well and can be used for meal prep as well.

If you’re unsure about what to cook this week, try this one out and leave a comment below to let me know what you think! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do!

Pork san choy bow close-up
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A super easy and fast San Choy Bow, or pork lettuce wrap recipe, that features tender pork and crisp vegetables brought together with a scrumptious brown sauce served on lettuce leaves. Make a light healthy meal or complete your Chinese dinner with this colorful dish! {Gluten-Free adaptable}

Pork Lettuce Wrap (San Choy Bow)

A super easy and fast San Choy Bow, or pork lettuce wrap recipe, that features tender pork and crisp vegetables brought together with a scrumptious brown sauce served on lettuce leaves. Make a light healthy meal or complete your Chinese dinner with this colorful dish! {Gluten-Free adaptable}
To make the dish gluten-free, use a gluten-free oyster sauce, use dry sherry to replace Shaoxing wine, and use tamari to replace soy sauce.
Author: Maggie Zhu
Course: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: restaurant-style
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

Sauce

Filling

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 lb (450 g) ground pork
  • 1 white onion , minced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 tablespoon miced ginger , minced
  • 1 can (100g / 3.5oz) water chestnuts , small diced
  • 1 red pepper , small diced

Wrap and topping options

  • 10 to 12 lettuce leaves (Iceberg, Bibb, Butterhead, or Romaine)
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts , chopped
  • green onions , thinly sliced
  • Chili garlic sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

Instructions

  • For the sauce: Add all the sauce ingredients into a small bowl and stir to mix well.
  • To make the filling: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the ground pork and spread into an even layer. Cook without touching until the bottom is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the pork and chop into smaller pieces. Cook until the other side turns golden. Move the pork to one side of the pan.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, onion, garlic and ginger to the other side of the pan. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Then mix everything together.
  • Add the water chestnut and the red pepper. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Transfer everything to a large bowl.
  • To serve and eat: Add a spoonful of the pork filling onto a lettuce leaf. Add some roasted peanuts and green onions. Drizzle a bit of chili garlic sauce or your favorite hot sauce for a spicy taste, if desired. Enjoy as an appetizer.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 232kcal, Carbohydrates: 14.5g, Protein: 22.7g, Fat: 9.4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 55mg, Sodium: 301mg, Potassium: 542mg, Fiber: 1.6g, Sugar: 3.8g, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 2mg
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Gary says:

    Could this be made with char szchu?….excuse me spelling. Though I guess grond pork would be best…..what say you?….Thanks.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      I think you’re talking about char siu pork – I think you probably can and use them if you finely chop it. Although I think ground pork is easier and faster to make, and the result is great 🙂

  2. Eileen says:

    You say how to chop the shitake mushrooms in the instruction but they are not on the ingredient list or in the cooking instructions

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Sorry for the confusion! I originally included it, but ended up not using it in the final recipe because it’s a bit overpowering. Just updated the recipe and now it’s correct.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Th ingredients listed in the instructions are not the same as those shown or listed in the ingredients list. I think you may have included instructions for a different recipe.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Sorry for the confusion! I originally included it, but ended up not using it in the final recipe because it’s a bit overpowering. Just updated the recipe and now it’s correct.

  4. Jack says:

    Thanks, nice recipe. Jicama would work as well as a substitute for water chestnuts/bamboo shoots. I bet that black bean sauce would be a nice match too.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Oh yes definitely! I don’t use it very often but I think texture-wise they are quite similar. And yes, black bean sauce definitely works in this recipe!

  5. Vicki Vernig says:

    Directions say to mince mushrooms….there are no mushrooms in the ingredient list.

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Sorry for the confusion! I originally included it, but ended up not using it in the final recipe because it’s a bit overpowering. Just updated the recipe and now it’s correct.

  6. Debba says:

    Step 3 says add “oil, onion, CARROT, garlic . . .” and no carrot is mentioned in the ingredients list. FYI

    • Maggie Zhu says:

      Sorry about this! Just updated the recipe.

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