Meatless Monday: Vegan San Choi Bau



Here’s something I’d always wanted to make, but shoved it into the “one day” category (a lot of things are in there, I’m afraid to look! I slam the door and run…). It involved having iceberg lettuce to hand, which I rarely buy, and also sorting out a minced meat substitute for the traditional recipe, which seemed like a lot of bother. I didn’t want to use packet stuff, and I felt it needed a little more oomph than just chopped veggies in lettuce.

So I dillied and I dallied, and one day after seeing this vegan basil “chicken” recipe, which kind of looked like pretty delicious san choi bau filling if I tinkered a bit, I thought now is the time. I am a little bit in love with Marc’s blog. He takes us through the freezing and crumbling of tofu method here, which provides the “meat” portion of this recipe. He veganises a lot of Asian food which makes me very, very hungry. I love Asian food SO DAMN MUCH and while my tolerance levels mean I’ll turn a blind eye here and there when I get ethnic food and I know something will more than likely contain dashi or fish sauce or shrimp paste, for eating it at home I like to use recipes where I don’t have to do that. Marc creates recipes that still pack a punch of flavour without their more traditional ingredients. Win!

He also makes spicy chicken lettuce wraps, so I based this recipe from that one, using the crumbled tofu method and adding a few bits and pieces. It is so good it makes me want to buy iceberg lettuce more often – and to also always keep a block of tofu in the freezer! Who would have thought. Good fun, peeps – serve them as an appetiser, or as part of a Monday night yum cha like I did, with edamame and veggie gyoza.

(Meanwhile, I love Not Quite Nigella’s version here – I will be doing this next.)

Vegan san choi bau


  • 1 Medium iceberg lettuce
  • 1 Large block tofu, frozen and thawed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Small piece ginger (about a centimetre long), minced
  • 1 Medium shallot, diced fine
  • 1 Small carrot, diced fine
  • 1 Large green onion, sliced thin (save tops for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
  • few drops sesame oil
  • crispy fried shallots, fresh coriander and fresh chives, to garnish


Step 1
In a frying pan, heat some oil over medium heat. Add garlic, shallots, ginger and the bottoms of the green onions.
Step 2
Meanwhile, squeeze all the water you can from the tofu block (you might have to do this in pieces) until dry. Crumble into the the frying pan and saute until it picks up the flavour, a few minutes.
Step 3
Turn the heat down and add the sauces, and sesame oil, adjusting to taste preference. Feel free to add more sriracha, that shit is the bomb! Stir until well coated.
Step 4
Break apart the iceberg lettuce into little cups, the area around the heart works best for this. Spoon a little of the tofu mix into each one, and garnish with crispy fried shallots, fresh coriander and chives. Yum!


  1. Lisa Mckenzie says

    Looks good,I don’t buy iceberg lettuce very often either i am not a fan ,give me a good baby cos anyday and asian food yum ,i might make these very soon,thanks Stacey x

  2. says

    Fabulous recipe Stacey! I’ve heard so much about but never tried sriracha sauce – it’s been in my “one day” category for ages too! And thanks for the link to Marc’s blog – interesting info about freezing and defrosting tofu! Are you ready for Melbourne yet? When do you move? (and can you bring us some sunshine please?) :)

    • says

      Ohhh Sriracha is amazing. I don’t know how I lived without it for so long!
      Totally ready for Melbourne… just once I get my fill of my last Queensland winter :)

  3. Elizabeth@thebackyardlemontree says

    The freezing of tofu changes it’s texture in quite a magical way. This looks really good.

    • says

      I have always wanted to do it, but been hamstrung by the fact I don’t like tofu and never buy it! Although I’m branching out a bit more now, and have found a few recipes I like, like this one :)

  4. MotherDownUnder says

    I want Monday night yum cha!
    Why does no one at my house prepare these kinds of things for me? Wah!
    I guess I will have to make it myself!

    • says

      Oh hello! Welcome! Yes, ridiculously helpful, it’s a fantastic resource. My lettuce cups aren’t as pretty as yours but they sure tasted good. Thanks so much! :)


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