Deliciou Chinese San Choy Bau.
Deliciou Chinese San Choy Bau. Contributed

Lettuce eat Chinese

ALL else came from cans - pineapple, beetroot, asparagus, cucumber and occasionally even the ham. In the cultural desert that was Australia in the '60s, we really didn't know any better, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with those ingredients - but we've come a long way.


As that particular hot weather delight was all my family ate in summer (apart from Friday - being good Catholics we always had fish), I still have trouble eating iceberg lettuce.


That is, apart from two dishes where the iceberg is essential. A good old-fashioned prawn cocktail, and San Choy Bau.


The latter dish is a favourite on the menu of most neighbourhood Chinese restaurants; the spicy mince and vegetable mix is served spooned into large, crisp iceberg lettuce "cups", and frilly lettuce (as a friend's dad calls them) just won't do. The leaves have to have substance and body; iceberg is ideal.


This Aussie version of the authentic recipe is versatile in that the mince can be chicken, pork or beef and you can add pretty much any vegetables that you like. Try fresh corn, chopped snowpeas, green beans, mushrooms or fresh asparagus.


The Burringbar School of Arts Hall fundraiser earlier this year featured their own version using either locally sourced Bangalow pork or AJ's duck, both of which were hugely successful.


There's something about assembling meals at the table that kids love, and it's a great way to get them to eat their vegies. If you are serving it to your children you may want to dial back the quantity of spice until they get a feel for it. I like my San Choy Bau with extra chilli, but it's not necessary.


It's a healthy dish, perfect for warm weather.

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