Tuesday, December 1, 2009

San Choy Bao

I know living in Australia means my recipes are perpetually out of season; I find san choy bao very refreshing on the summer day. But cool crispy lettuce stuffed with warm meat and veggies is probably tasty whatever the season, idiosyncratic preferences notwithstanding. It's also simple to prepare (except for all the chopping).

1 whole head iceberg lettuce
1 yellow onion, diced
2 T sesame oil
1/2 to 1 lb diced/minced meat (I used kangaroo, but beef, chicken, or duck are also common choices. Or mushrooms, if you prefer a vegetarian option.)
3 carrots, diced
1 small jar water chestnuts, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
fish sauce or soy sauce, to taste
1 cup cooked Asian noodles, chopped

Soak the lettuce in a bowl of cool water. Meanwhile, fry the onion in the sesame oil over medium high heat until translucent. Add meat or mushrooms and brown, add diced veggies and cook until meat is finished, and add fish sauce or soy sauce. For a bit of heat, add chopped bird's eye chilis at the same time as the veggies.

The soaking should have loosened the lettuce leaves and made it easy to peel them off the head of lettuce without breaking them. Separate the leaves and put them on a platter. Fill the bottom of each with noodles; this will help soak up the juice from the meat-and-veggie mixture. Place the meat-and-veggie mixture into the lettuce leaf cups on top of the noodles, and serve immediately.

This recipe will make dinner for two, or appetizers for more. I do not know how to eat san choy bao gracefully.