Vegetarian San Choy Bau

Vegetarian San Choy Bau

I have always loved San Choy Bau and over the years, my exposure to South East Asian cooking ultimately led me to develop this original San Choy Bau recipe, which is even fresher, tastier and vegetarian.

THIS RECIPE: Enough for 2.

For this recipe, begin by making the sauce as you will need it to cook the tofu.


  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp Gojujang
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons malt vinegar
  • 1 large spring onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon


  • 1 Iceberg lettuce
  • 1/4 purple cabbage
  • 1 Romaine lettuce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 large mint leaves
  • 4 large lemon balm leaves
  • 280g firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 tbsp cornflour
  • Zest for 1/2 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • Finely chop the garlic and place it into a bowl.
  • Slice the spring onion finely and give it a rough chop. Add this to the bowl.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine.


  1. Making the lettuce shells:
    • Focus on the root of the iceberg lettuce and carefully slice off the stem. Now, peel whole leaves off the iceberg lettuce, without breaking the leaves. This step requires patience and a gentle hand.
    • Carefully wash each iceberg lettuce leaf by running it under clean cold water and set aside on a plate in the fridge.
  2. Making the filling for the San Choy Bau
    • Preparing the tofu:
      • First drain the tofu from the liquid and place the tofu block on a plate between 2 clean paper towels and then place another plate ontop of the tofu and leave to stand for 15 min.
      • After 15 minutes, remove the tofu from the paper towel (make sure it has not got any paper towel stuck to it) and slice the firm tofu into cubes of about 1 cm3 and place in a bowl.
      • Marinade the tofu by adding the soy sauce and toss in the bowl. Wait 5 minutes for the soy sauce to soak into the tofu.
      • In a clean bowl, add the cornflour, and then use a spoon to remove the tofu from the marinade bowl and drop it into the cornflour. Toss and make sure that all the tofu pieces are covered in a thin layer of cornflour. Each tofu cube should look dry and not wet.
      • Place the tofu on a baking tray, drizzle with sesame oil and place it into the oven at 180° for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Make sure to turn the tofu at about 10 minutes.
    • While the tofu is baking:
      • Slice the purple cabbage into fine/very thin layers and place into a salad bowl.
      • Slice the romaine lettuce from the stem to the head into 1/2 mm thick layers and add to the salad bowl.
      • Finely chop the fresh mint and lemon balm leaves and add to the salad bowl.
      • Grate the zest of 1/2 a lemon into the salad bowl and squeeze the juice of the lemon into the salad bowl.
      • Finely chop the garlic and set aside for cooking with the tofu.
    • Once the tofu is baked:
      • Heat up the olive oil in a pan and add the chopped garlic that you set aside.
      • Add in the baked tofu.
      • Place 1 tablespoon of the sauce you prepared into the pan and fry until crispy and colourful then remove from the heat and let the tofu cool.
      • Once cooled, add the tofu to the salad bowl and toss.


Place the salad bowl, lettuce leaves and sauce on the table. You can pre-assemble each San Choy Bau, but really, this is a dinner that you assemble at the table yourself – allowing each person to cater for themselves and place as much sauce as you want.


In a blender, place fresh mint leaves and ice cubes. Blend it up! Pour it into a glass, place fresh ice cubes and dilute with tonic water… or if you want to be naughty, add some fresh Prosecco.

Bon Appétit!!