Crisp cool lettuce cups are filled with crunchy veg and beef mixture.
Let me start with an apology to connoisseurs of Chinese language. I call these lettuce cups San Choy Bao, but that it not entirely accurate, due to the phoenetic spelling from another language! Sometimes it may be written as Sang Choy Bow, and I’m sure there a handful of other versions, too. Any which way you pronounce it, these are tasty lettuce cups filled with a savory mixture of meat and veg. They’re pretty commonly served as a single cup appetizer (at least in Australian-Chinese restaurants!), and are usually made with pork. And that’s where I’m changing the game.
First, I like to combine several of these in one plate as a main course serving. Second, I substituted the traditional pork for beef. Ground beef has a wonderful umami richness and intensity of flavor that makes it the perfect non-authentic sub for this dish. When combined with delicious fillings like baby corn, water chestnut and mushrooms, it’s the perfect partner to the crisp, cool lettuce cups. A textural bite if ever there was one – hot, cool, chunky and crunchy.
If you want to make this a leaner meal option, you can use 90/10 ground beef. And if you’re looking for a richer flavor with a moist filling, I recommend 80/20 ground beef. If possible, I also recommend you go to the extra effort of procuring some dark soy sauce (instead of light, which is more commonly found). Dark soy sauce is thicker, darker, and has an incredible concentration of mushroomy and salty flavors.