china girl

pork sung choi bau

When I was first getting into cooking during my uni days living in a share house, Asian food was something that we were really excited about cooking. Somehow it seemed far more exotic and felt like it required far less timing skills than knocking up the traditional meat and three veg that we had mostly grown up on.

Sure we occasionally pitched in to pull together a roast with all the trimmings if someone’s folks had been to the big smoke and dropped off a home grown leg of lamb and of course there was plenty of pasta with ‘red’ sauce or spag bol when we were feeling a little richer. But Thai and Indian dishes were on just as high a rotation. It would be rare for a week to go by without a Thai inspired red or green curry, or a chicken with cashew nut or that classic simple stir fry of chicken with basil or an Indian curry made with the help of the good people at Sharwoods.

So the other day I was looking at my cookbook collection, it occurred to me that when it comes to cooking Asian food I’ve really slackened off over the years. I’m not sure why it is but as regular stonesoup reader will know, you’re much more likely to find something Middle Eastern, Italian or even French or Spanish coming out of my kitchen than something Thai, Indian or Japanese.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love my Asian food and still get just as excited about visiting Longrain, Billy Kwong, Wasavie or Spice I Am as I used to. But for some reason in my small headspace, I’ve come to see Asian as something you go out to enjoy rather than prepare at home. A bit of a case of a leave it to the professionals.

But as I was leafing through my copy of my barely used edition of Kylie Kwong’s Recipes and Stories, I started to get inspired with the thought of preparing a bit of a Saturday night Chinese banquet. A trip to Chinatown in the morning for ingredient procurement and a treat of Yum Cha (mmumm chicken feet & pork buns) followed by a relaxing afternoon in the kitchen and a long boozy dinner with a random mix of friends… all good things.


pork sung choi bau
serves 6 as a starter

Adapted from Kylie Kwong’s first book, recipes and stories.

Feel free to adjust this to suit your tastes. It would also work well with chicken mince or a combo of chicken and pork. Although it does seem like a longish list of ingredients it all comes together relatively quickly.

It’s traditionally served as a starter for Chinese meals but you could easily make a meal out of it as well. Like my Texan friend Courtney says, ‘it’s the perfectly food, there’s meat, there’s veggies and a whole lot of flavour, you could live on that stuff’.

50g dried Chinese mushrooms
1/2C dry sherry
50g ginger, thinly sliced
1 green onion
1 clove garlic
1T peanut or vegetable oil
600g fatty pork mince
4 lup cheong sausages (Chinese pork sausages), finely sliced, optional
25g ginger, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 medium carrot, finely grated
250g canned water chestnuts*, drained & quartered
1/2C (125mL) light soy sauce
4T oyster sauce
1t sesame oil
1-2 teaspoons white sugar
½ bunch green onions**, finely sliced
handful coriander leaves picked
2 red chillies, seeded & finely sliced
1 green onion, cut into 6cm lengths and juilenned
1 iceberg lettuce, leaves separated and washed

Place mushrooms in a small saucepan and cover with boiling water. Allow to soak for ten minutes. Drain and return to the saucepan with the sherry, ginger, green onion, garlic and 1/2C water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 40mins or until mushrooms are soft. Allow to cool then drain and remove stems from mushrooms before finely dicing.

Heat peanut oil in a wok over a high heat and stir fry pork mince and sausage until browned. Add diced ginger, garlic and carrot and stir fry for a few more minutes. Stir through diced mushrooms, water chestnuts, sauces, sesame oil and 1t sugar and allow to cook for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with remaining sugar and extra soy oyster sauce if required.

Stir through sliced green onion and then place pork mixture in a serving bowl. Top with coriander leaves, red chilli and julienned green onion. Pass lettuce separately. Allow your guests to place some of the pork in a lettuce leaf then roll up and eat.

* canned water chestnuts can be found in the asian section of most supermarkets. They have a lovely crunchy texture but if you can’t find them it will be fine without.
** green onions are also known as shallots or spring onions.

ps. Another word of wisdom from my Texan friend made our fortune cookie reading far more humourous. All you need to do is read out your fortune and add the words ‘in bed’ afterwards. Gives some fortunes a whole other dimension.


  • I’m Asian and remember fondly when we ate these Sang Choi Bao out with friends.
    I’ve done Sang Choi Bao at home as well – it’s really just some sort of minced meat, 1-2 veg for the colour and crunchy texture.
    meats – chicken/pork mainly, beef gives a richer flavour but you gotta be quick on the wok)

    I can do without Lap Cheong/Chinese sausage, but I’d really love the crunch of the water chestnut. Last time I had red & yellow bell pepper/capsicums so I used those.

    6 most important ingredients:
    -mince meat
    -1-2 colour veg that will maintain some “crunch” factor after cooking
    – water crestnut, for the crunchiness
    -dried chinese mushroom, for its flavour
    -light soy sauce
    -iceberg lettuce

    Having said that though, you could pretty much do any mince meat thing, without too much sauce running out of it, and serve it in iceberg lettuce. One could probably do a sloppy joe and serve it in an iceberg lettuce. Although there’s less “bite” to it.
    Happy Asian cooking :D

  • I love your blog, and the photos! Its given me tons of awesome ideas for food – I’ve been cooking more Thai/Indian food lately and stumbled across it while searching for a recipe. Thank you!

    N.B., In the States and elsewhere, green onions are also called scallions, but not shallots. Shallots exclusively refer to the small, oblong (sometimes not), red onion-like member of the Allium family. They are milder and sweeter than onions and unlike green onions, are generally only used for their bulbs.

  • Hi, been reading for a while and your photos have always been an inspiration :)

    I’ve never had Sang Choy Bao until I moved to Australia, and it is such a delicious, addictive dish to eat.

  • that’s cool you’re getting into make asian dishes.

    i gotta warn ya though,

    “china girl” isn’t a very polite term,

    but kudos for trying.

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