Keto San Choi Bao: Chinese Pork Lettuce Wraps
Am I the only one that finds eating with your hands so satisfying? I love anything that comes in a wrap, especially if the sauce is all running all down your hands. These Keto San Choi Bao are just the thing. These tiny lettuce parcels are crispy and packed with flavorful pork and topped with fresh ingredients that are not only tasty but vibrant too. They are incredibly easy to prepare, require only simple ingredients and make the perfect
lazy quick dinner.
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What is San Choi Bao? 生菜包
San Choi Bao (which has many different spellings, aka San/Sang/Sung Choi/Choy Bao/Bow/Bau) is a classic Chinese dish that is bright, fresh and bold. Written as 生菜包 it translates directly to ‘lettuce wrap’. It features widely on menus in Chinese restaurants in Australia and so I first grew to love it during my student years.
That said, I was surprised to find its origins impossible to discover! I’ve seen it described as hailing from Guangzhou, as originating from Hong Kong and even here as a Chinese-Australian dish, which could explain why it’s something so familiar to me. If anyone can shed some light on this, please let me know in the comments, I would really love to know.
How to Make Keto San Choi Bao
This recipe focuses on fresh ingredients and omits the usual sugar-laden sauces to create a low carb version that is still packed full of flavor and just as much fun to make (and eat)!
San Choi Bao is typically made using iceberg lettuce. It gives the perfect crunch and the large leaves make it the ideal carrier for wrapping up even more filling. It’s common to gently detach the leaves and then trim them with scissors to make neat round cups. That said, in this version I’ve used some pretty romaine; any leaves will do!
The meat filling is traditionally pork, but can be switched to chicken or a vegetable mix if you prefer. It is cooked in garlic and ginger before adding the sauces to simmer. To keep things low carb, this recipe uses tamari, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Tamari is an amazing soy sauce replacement (sans flour) which I use in lots of recipes (such as this). Oyster sauce can vary dramatically between brands and some can be really high in sugar so be careful to read labels. This one is my current favorite and the best I’ve found yet. Lime and sesame oil are added at the end for seasoning.
The wraps are then topped with a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs! Here we’ve used fresh coriander, chopped peanuts, sliced red chili and sesame seeds. Mushrooms, capsicum and bean sprouts are also great keto options.
A classic San Choi Bao usually includes carrots and water chestnuts too, which are a little higher in carbs and are omitted from this recipe. These ingredients help provide crunch, so it’s crucial to include the chopped peanuts instead!
- Tamari – my favorite soy sauce replacement
- Oyster Sauce – be sure to check label for sugar content
- Sesame Oil – you don’t need to too much of this!
Keto San Choi Bao: Chinese Pork Lettuce Wrap
- 1 whole iceberg lettuce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 500g minced pork
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 piece ginger about 2 cm long, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tamari sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1/2 fresh lime juiced
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 3 shallots (spring onions) sliced
- fresh coriander leaves
- 1/4 cup peanuts finely chopped
- 1 whole red chili sliced
- sesame seeds (for garnish)
Prepare your lettuce leaves by gently removing whole leaves and trimming the edges with scissors to make round cups. Each leaf makes one wrap.
This is quite a quick dish to make, so prepare all the other ingredients. Mince the garlic, finely chop the ginger, slice the shallots, chop the coriander leaves, finely chop the peanuts and slice the red chili.
Heat your frying pan (or wok) on high heat and add olive oil. Break off the minced pork into chunks and place around the base of the pan. Add the garlic and ginger.
Let the meat brown for 1 minute on the underside, it will become a lovely crispy golden brown. Then mix everything together and fry for another 2 minutes, breaking up the pork mince as you go. The pork should be browned all over.
Serve everything family-style for the best experience! Take a lettuce leaf, fill with the pork mixture and top with the coriander, peanuts, chili and sesame seeds. Roll up into a parcel and enjoy!