This turkey san choy bow is a recipe I published years back but have now given it an update to make it even easier and more delicious and with all the steps you’ll need to make this simple weeknight dinner.

If you love this, you’ll love this super popular Asian Chilli Beef Mince too and this Chinese Prawn Fried Rice.

A wooden platter topped with lettuce leaves filled with turkey san choy bow filling.

What is san choy bow

San Choy Bow – spelt many different ways like, san choi bau and sang choy bow to name just two and also known as Chinese lettuce wraps – is a really light and simple stir-fry of ground meat and vegetables, wrapped up inside lettuce leaves.

Pork san choy bow, chicken san choy bow and beef san choy bow are all delicious variations of the same dish and you can make any of these with the same flavoursome filling, by simply changing the meat.

Why you’ll love it

Quick and loaded with flavour, turkey san choy bow is the perfect addition to your dinner rotation. It’s easy to make, you can prep ingredients ahead, it’s all cooked in one pan and everyone will love it.

San Choy Bow is one of those amazing dishes that is both absolutely chock-full of flavour and healthy all at once. It’s a good one for kids too because you can cram it full of hidden veggies and they won’t even know.

It’s also just as easy to serve salad style too by piling it on top of chopped lettuce and other salad vegetables. This way you can increase the veggie content even more and it’s less likely to get messy.

Ingredients you’ll need

San Choy Bow is a fridge-cleaner meal as well, meaning what you’ve got in the fridge right now will likely work just fine. Great at the end of the week for using up all those veggies you didn’t quite get to. Just chop them all up really small and throw them in.

Ingredients for turkey san choy bow on a marble benchtop.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Turkey mince: I use turkey mince / ground turkey in this leaner version but you can use any mince you like – pork is more traditional beef or chicken mince are also really tasty. You can also use extra-firm tofu for a meatless meal.
  • Vegetables: I add celery for crunch, spring onion (green onion / scallions) for flavour, carrot for sweetness and mushrooms for both their meaty flavour and soft texture. I often will add frozen peas or corn too.
  • Chilli: Chilli is optional but I like my Chinese lettuce wraps with a bit of spicy kick. I just cut half a chilli finely and add that when cooking, then serve sliced chilli on the side for those that want more.
  • Garlic and ginger: If you can, use fresh garlic and fresh ginger. These will always have the best flavour and add a real bold umami to this meaty stir fry.
  • Soy sauce: I use light soy sauce – not dark or sweet. You can also use tamari or fish sauce if you like. If using fish sauce, add it a little at a time, and taste the sauce as you go as it’s very salty.
  • Oyster sauce: Oyster sauce gives a wonderful rich flavour.
  • Shaoxing rice wine: This is a Chinese rice wine available in most grocery stores. You can swap it for dry sherry or just water.
  • Honey: Just a very small touch of honey balances out the salty flavours. You could use maple syrup or sugar in it’s place.
  • Sesame oil: One of my favourite Asian flavours, this adds both umami and nuttiness.
  • Cornflour: Also known as cornstarch, cornflour is a thickener and makes the sauce wrap around the meat beautifully.
  • Lettuce: Of course, you need lettuce for lettuce wraps. I use baby cos lettuce which is nice and crisp but the leaves are a good size for holding in your hand. Iceberg lettuce leaves also work but you may need to wrap them up more.
  • Vegetable oil: Use a little peanut oil or vegetable oil to start the cooking process.

I serve this topped with toasted peanuts, the finely sliced green parts of spring onions and sliced chilli. Coriander / cilantro is also a lovely way to top it.

Oftentimes, san choy bow will also include water chestnuts which add a great crunch. Many times the sauce will be made up largely of hoisin sauce but I find this too sweet and much prefer this combination above.

How to make san choy bow

Turkey san choy bow is a very simple dish to make. Once everything is cut up, it’s a matter of stir frying everything together. Stir fries move quick, so I recommend prepping everything before you start cooking. This also means you can easily prep this ahead of time.

A collage of 6 images showing how to cook turkey san choy bow.

Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Start by chopping everything up into small pieces: Spring onions should have the white part finely chopped and the green part thinly sliced. Grate the carrot finely, chop the celery into small pieces the size of a corn kernel. Chilli, if using, should be finely chopped for the filling and sliced for the topping.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan or seasoned wok and add the celery, onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for a couple of minutes until slightly softened and aromatic.
  3. Add the chilli and soften that, stirring for a minute or so.
  4. Now you add the turkey mince. Cook that for a few minutes over medium-high heat, breaking up the lumps with the back of a wooden spoon, until it’s browned all over.
  5. Now it’s mushroom and carrot time. Add those in, cooking for a few minutes and mixing through well.
  6. Now, the sauce is added to the turkey mixture which is the best bit. Give it a mix through and then stop stirring for a couple of minutes. This part is so important because the sauce will thicken quickly and coat the meat, that will then caramelised underneath adding loads of flavour.
  7. Add in some green parts of the onion and mix them through right before serving.
  8. Serve in a big bowl in the middle of the table with washed and dried lettuce leaves, chopped toasted peanuts, chilli slices and spring onion slices. Everyone can make up their perfect combo.
Turkey san choy bow filling in a black bowl.

Prepping ahead

You can prepare all your turkey san choy bow ingredients ahead of time.

  • Chop up celery, spring onion (white parts) garlic and ginger and store them together in a small airtight container, since they all go in at once.
  • Mushrooms can be chopped up and stored separately in the fridge.
  • Carrot is best grated as fresh as possible but you can certainly store it already shredded overnight. Add it to the mushrooms with the chopped chilli and sliced onion (green parts) on a plate covered with plastic wrap in the fridge.
  • The sauce ingredients can all be mixed together in a jar with a tight lid and can sit at room temp for a few days.
  • Lettuce leaves can be washed, dried and stored in an airtight container, with a sheet of paper towel at the bottom for 4-5 days.

Storing leftovers

Any leftover meat filling can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. It can be eaten cold but I prefer it heated up either in the microwave or in a frying pan.

Leftover lettuce should be stored in an airtight container with a sheet of paper towel in the bottom for 4-5 days.

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A lettuce leaf filled with san choy bow meat filling.

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Lettuce leaves filled with san choy bow meat filling.

Turkey San Choy Bow (Chinese Lettuce Wraps)

5 from 4 ratings
Turkey San Choy Bow (or Chinese lettuce wraps) are a quick and healthy take on a classic. Flavoursome turkey mince filling with vegetables all wrapped in crisp lettuce cups is the perfect weeknight meal, that everyone- even the kids – will love!

Ingredients

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoons water (note 1)
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce (60ml)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce (50ml) (note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine (note 1)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons honey

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil or vegetable oil (note 1)
  • 3 medium spring onions, finely chopped (set aside the green parts)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped (roughly 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (note 1)
  • 500 g turkey mince (ground turkey) (1.1lb) (notes 2)
  • ½ cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 medium carrot (finely grated) (roughly 1 cup not packed)
  • 1 large red chilli (half finely chopped and the other half sliced)
  • 12 lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • 2 tablespoons toasted peanuts, chopped (note 1)

Equipment

  • Large frying pan or wok

Instructions
 

  • Make sure all your ingredients are chopped and ready to go. There’s no time to stop with stir-fries
  • FOR THE SAUCE: Mix cornflour with the water to make a slurry, then add it together with all of the sauce ingredients and mix well.
  • FOR THE FILLING: Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the white parts of the onions, celery, garlic and ginger and cook stirring continually for about 2 minutes until starting to soften and aromatic.
  • Add in the finely chopped chilli, cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Add the turkey mince and cook stirring and breaking up the larger chunks with a wooden spoon as you go, until cooked through.
  • Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add the carrot and cook, stirring for another 2 minutes until softened.
  • Give the sauce a quick stir to make sure it’s well mixed then pour it into the wok. Stir through well to coat everything.
  • This bit is really important – now stop stirring and let the mixture sit over the high heat for about 1-2 minutes. The sauce will get thicker and the mix sitting on the bottom of pan will caramelise just slightly.
  • Add most of the greens of the spring onion, just reserving a few to scatter over the top at the end. Mix through.
  • Serve with lettuce leaves, sliced chilli, peanuts and coriander.
  • Place about ½ cup of mix into a lettuce leaf, then top with the remaining green onions, peanuts and chilli to taste. Fold up or eat like a taco.

Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (equal to 4 teaspoons, worldwide)
  2. Other meats: Traditionally Chinese lettuce wraps are made with pork but chicken and beef can also be used.
  3. Meatless option: You can use extra-firm tofu in place of the meat. Add it when you would add the meat, crumbling it up.
  4. Prep ahead: Everything can be prepped ahead and stored in airtight containers in the fridge.
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