Mushroom San Choy Bow

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Mushroom San Choy Bow - It's Not Complicated Recipes #glutenfree #vegetarian #easyrecipes #vegetarianrecipes #meatfree #healthyrecipes

Mushroom San Choy Bow is a fabulous meal for vegetarians and carnivores alike. San Choy Bow is a popular dish, served in most Chinese restaurants. It is one of my favourites and one that I frequently order. On a number of occasions, I have enjoyed the pork, chicken, duck and quail versions of this dish. However, the idea of creating a flavoursome mushroom version appealed greatly. The dish is vegetarian, however, easily adapted to vegan with the omission or replacement of oyster sauce.

Although I have made several different versions of this dish on many an occasion, I wanted to do some research to learn about the origins. The many different ways of spelling San Choy Bow had made me curious. I discovered on Wiktionary that there are 18 different combinations of three words; san/sung/sang choi/choy bow/bao/bau. So, I am no wiser regarding the correct way to spell the name. Maybe all the combinations are correct?

The dish is thought to have Cantonese origins, possibly coming from Hong Kong. However, Google, unusually, does not offer definitive information. What I did find is that San Choy translates as “lettuce” and Bow as “wrap”.

Thus, I present Mushroom San Choy Bow, the ideal lettuce wrap. I have adapted this recipe from a recipe I previously made with chicken. Mushrooms play a central role in many meat-free dishes. The reason is that they have a dense,” meaty” texture when cooked.

I have used button mushrooms. They have a mild flavour which becomes more intense as they cook. Mushrooms contain the fifth taste sense, umami. The other four are sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Umami is a Japanese term which loosely translates as “pleasant, savoury taste”. Some other foods which contain umami are soy sauce, bacon, parmesan cheese and that Australian icon, Vegemite.

To begin, I make this meat-free version of San Choy Bow by dicing some mushrooms.

I toss them in a hot wok until almost cooked. Mushrooms contain a great deal of water. Therefore, to achieve the best flavour it is essential to remove that water. Then, you can begin adding your flavour elements.

Mushroom San Choy Bow

To the wok, I add diced onion, grated ginger and garlic. I toss them all together for a few minutes and then add several Asian sauces. Finally, I add diced water chestnuts, scallions, chopped mint and coriander. I turn the mushrooms into a serving dish and top with chopped peanut and sliced chilli. I serve crisp lettuce leaves to encase the mushroom filling. All the classic flavours of San Choy Bow are here.

There are a couple of essential elements to bear in mind when making Mushroom San Choy Bow.

An element which I feel is essential is water chestnuts. Water chestnuts are a staple in Chinese cooking. They have a neutral flavour but their tremendous value is in the crunchy texture they provide. To maintain this texture it is best to add them toward the end of cooking time. They are available, canned, in most supermarkets. I encourage you to include them if you can find them.

Another important element is the lettuce. The lettuce has a vital role; it is the vessel which holds the cooked filling. To me, there is only one lettuce to use; the Iceberg. The Iceberg fell out of favour a while back. However, no other lettuce is comparable when it comes to providing the crunch which is necessary for this dish. Further, it is a sturdy leaf which can hold the warm filling without wilting.

You can customise this recipe to suit your taste.

To add extra vegetables to your meal, you could add some shredded carrot or baby corn. However, if you do add ingredients it is wise to check the seasoning before serving. Adding extra ingredients may dilute the flavours. Whilst this is a simple dish, there is a good deal of preparation initially. Cooking time, however, is brief.

Looking for some more delicious Asian inspired recipes? Have a look at these:

I do hope you will try Mushroom San Choy Bow. Please let me know in the comments below if you do.

Alex and Faye xx

Mushroom San Choy Bow
Mushroom San Choy Bow
5 from 32 votes

Mushroom San Choy Bow

Enjoy the vibrant flavours of my Mushroom San Choy Bow. This is a great vegetarian version of a Chinese classic dish. It will be enjoyed by vegetarians and carnivores alike. Serve it as a starter, as part of a share meal or as a healthy, stand-alone, meat-free meal. Just make sure to chill your Iceberg lettuce cups to ensure they are very crisp.

Course Appetiser, Main Meal, Side Dish, Starter
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword delicious, easy, gluten free, mushroom, mushroom san choy bow, san choy bow, simple, vegan option, vegetarian
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 202 kcal
Author Alexandra


  • 500 g white button mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil/neutral flavoured oil *
  • 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tsp lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 tsp soy sauce/tamari *
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce *
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce * use vegan option if you wish
  • 2 scallions/green onions the white and some green cut in 1 ½ cm/ ½” slices
  • 1/2 cup canned water chestnuts cut in 7mm/¼” cubes
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander/cilantro leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 long red chilli finely sliced – optional
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts chopped
  • 8 large iceberg lettuce leaves washed and trimmed


  1. Note: As with all Asian stir-fries, you need to ensure that you have all your elements prepared. The preparation takes time but the cooking time is brief so everything needs to be ready to use. It is best to read through the method before starting to cook.

  2. Clean the mushrooms by wiping with damp kitchen towel*.

  3. Cut into rough cubes about 1 ½cm/1/2”, stem included.

  4. Heat the oil over high heat in a wok or large frying pan. When the oil is hot it will begin to shimmer*.

  5. Add the mushrooms to the pan. Leave them undisturbed for about 1 minute. If they are frequently moved they will release a lot of moisture.

  6. Stir-fry or toss the mushrooms and again leave them for 1 minute. Repeat this process.

    The mushrooms will cook down to half their original size.

  7. After 3-4 minutes cooking time add the onion and ginger and stir well.

    Cook for about another 2 minutes, stirring or tossing the mushrooms until the onion has softened.

  8. Add the garlic and stir-fry for a further minute.

  9. Meanwhile, add the lime juice, soy, hoisin and oyster sauces to a small bowl. Mix them together well.

  10. Add the combined sauces and lime juice*. Toss to combine and cook a further minute or two. If the mixture needs a little extra liquid, add a tablespoon of water.

  11. Add the scallions, water chestnuts, mint, coriander/cilantro and sesame oil. Toss to combine.

  12. Turn the mushroom mixture into a serving dish. Garnish with chopped peanuts and red chilli.

  13. Accompany with iceberg lettuce leaves.

    To serve Mushroom San Choy Bow, spoon some filling onto a lettuce leaf, wrap up and enjoy.

Recipe Notes

*The Australian tablespoon is 20ml/4 teaspoons. In many other countries, the tablespoon is 15ml/3 teaspoons. You will need to adjust the measurements accordingly.
*To keep this dish gluten-free check the label on your sauces. Tamari is generally gluten-free but it is wise to always check the label if this is important to you.
*It is best to not put mushrooms into water to clean them. They are like sponges and will readily absorb the water.
* The oil needs to be hot, but not smoking otherwise the mushrooms will release a large amount of moisture. However, if this does occur, just continue to cook the mushrooms until most of the moisture has evaporated.
*It is best to have the sauces and lime juice measured out and mixed together in a small bowl.

Nutrition Facts
Mushroom San Choy Bow
Amount Per Serving
Calories 202 Calories from Fat 117
% Daily Value*
Fat 13g20%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 501mg22%
Potassium 659mg19%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 620IU12%
Vitamin C 26.3mg32%
Calcium 46mg5%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Gluten Free Mushroom San Choy Bow - It's Not Complicated Recipes #glutenfree #vegetarian #easyrecipes #vegetarianrecipes #meatfree #healthyrecipes
Mushroom San Choy Bow - It's Not Complicated Recipes #glutenfree #vegetarian #easyrecipes #vegetarianrecipes #meatfree #healthyrecipes

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187 Comments on “Mushroom San Choy Bow”

  1. Pingback: Charred Corn and Black Bean Salad - It's Not Complicated Recipes

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  4. 5 stars
    This is such a clever take on a classic dish – very impressive.
    It also stands up to the original, but great to have a vego option.

    1. Oh, I have wanted to try the lentil version for a while, too! I love the many ways of spelling this – so interested to see your spelling of it too! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    How I love mushrooms! I also substitute them for my meat and for the longest time, I’ve just been stewing them up. Well, one more recipe learnt.

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve never heard of San Choy Bow before. Thank you so much for sharing this unique recipe. I love all the ingredients, and I will definitely be making it.

  7. 5 stars
    I’m glad you went with the mushrooms for the umami here instead of vegemite! 🙂 I love recreating classic take-out dishes, too, and this one sounds like a delicious recipe! Very cool twist on this. I’d love this for lunch today!

  8. 5 stars
    I love that you have made a vegetarian version of such a classic Chinese dish – I’ll definitely have to try this and will omit the oyster sauce as you suggest

  9. Oh jeez, this would not be a meal for me but I know my mom would love it! It looks incredibly healthy and if I read the nutrition facts right….it is actually healthy haha. Thanks for sharing

  10. 5 stars
    This looks absolutely delicious! I am a sucker for mushrooms, and love finding new recipes with them. This mushroom san choy bow is for sure going to be a new meal staple in my home.

  11. 5 stars
    I absolutely love lettuce wraps. I really appreciate the info on the traditional recipe and it’s origin. All the personalization tips are very cool.

  12. As a mushroom lover, I am definitely gonna try this recipe. Learning different variations are fun to do. thank you for this neat recipe.

  13. This looks so good! I wish my husband and kids would enjoy a meal like this with me. I would love to make it!

  14. 5 stars
    If i liked mushrooms this would definitely be my number one dish to try out! thanks for background history and the yum meatless option!

  15. 5 stars
    I love mushrooms so much so this is a great way to have them. The addition of the lime juice makes my mouth water. I bet it provides such a fresh taste. Yum. Can’t wait to try!

  16. This looks like it would be absolutely amazing! I have never had anything like this before but it looks so tasty.

  17. 5 stars
    I have always enjoyed San Choy Bau (the spelling as I understand it) and have always felt it was a tasty and healthy dish. However, this is the first time I have heard of a mushroom version and I imagine this would really be just a yummy. Must give this a go.

    1. Hope you love it, Nicole! I know, the different spellings are amazing! I have several Chinese friends, and they all disagree on the spelling too, haha! 🙂

  18. 5 stars
    This looks so delicious! I am going to have to buy the ingredients and try it this weekend. I absolutely love mushrooms!

  19. This bowl looks like it would be full of yummy goodness. I need to give this a try for a lunch for myself one day.

  20. 5 stars
    I love eating mushrooms and I would love to try making this recipe. It looks so delicious and it seems that the recipe is so easy to prepare.

  21. 5 stars
    This looks so good…! And I Iove that it is meatless.. I am currently on the lookout of healthier versions of everything

  22. I love Chinese food, so I think I’ll try making this some time. I think this would work with the keto diet if you replace the sauces with other spices (to avoid sugar)

  23. I love this! It looks like a real gourmet dish. I will have to try to make this and let you know how it goes.

  24. I am feeling hungry after saw your dish. I would love to make this for me. Recipe looks easy and doable

  25. I’m not a fan of mushrooms but I may try this out with something else as the rest of it sounds very tasty.

  26. 5 stars
    I cooked this tonight and it was super easy and delicious! I thought Chinese food was complicated but this recipe is truly not a complicated recipe! Loved it 🙂 thanks a lot!!

  27. 5 stars
    I love Chinese cuisine, as it’s healthy and very delicious! I haven’t had a chance to try this dish out, so I hope I’ll surprise my family while serving it next weekend! 🙂

  28. I have never heard of Mushroom San Choy Bow, but it looks like it would be so full of flavor! I will have to try it next time I see it on a menu! Thanks for the introduction to something new!

  29. This looks super delish, but sadly most of my family hates mushrooms 🙁 I would definitely make this for just my daughter and I though!

  30. O my yum!!!! I just love mushrooms. Now I have a huge craving. Must give this recipe a try. Delicious

  31. I’m not a fan of mushrooms, but I love the idea of this dish. I may sub out a few things, but it looks fun to make nonetheless!

  32. 5 stars
    This dish might be good with lots of spices which make the dish unique. Ooh I want to try this.

  33. Mushroom is one of my favourite vegetables. So I am going to give this recipe a try without a second thought. Thanks for sharing

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