Main Course

Vegan San Choy Bau

I’m ethnically Chinese, so my family and I often frequent Chinese restaurants! Growing up, Peking duck used to be one of my favourite dishes to have at Chinese restaurants, and I love it especially when they used the meat, stir-fried it with other veggies and wrapped it in lettuce cups! These are called San Choy Bau, and is basically a stir-fry wrapped in lettuce. Of course, things are quite different now, but I wanted to recreate a vegan-friendly version of that dish. Or at least something that comes close to it!

In this recipe, I replaced the duck with tofu! Firm tofu is best in this recipe. Also, I like to freeze my drained tofu before I use it, and then thaw it overnight so that it’ll lose some of it’s water content in the thawing process. I added in little kenyan beans (you can substitute with fine green beans) for a little crunchiness and added veggies in the stir-fry! When serving, you can also added sliced cucumber if you wish.

The sauce comprises of hoisin sauce (a sweet, fermented soybean sauce, often used in Asian cooking!), lemon juice, sesame oil and a little bit of sriracha (or any other hot sauce). I find that this combination reminds me of eating the peking duck with its characteristic sweet sauce!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s super easy to make – you can make the tofu stir-fry and eat it with rice or noodles too. You can pack it to bring with you to school or work for a wholesome lunch! This is a little part of my culture, and I’ve been really inspired lately to go back to my roots, and to recreate some of my childhood favourites into vegan-friendly recipes. (There are many more like this coming soon!)

Vegan San Choy Bau

Growing up, having the meat from the Peking duck stir-fried with veggies and eaten with lettuce cups was one of my favourite dishes when my family and I went to Chinese restaurants! I wanted to recreate a vegan-friendly version of that, and hence this Peking Tofu Stir Fry, otherwise known as San Choy Bau!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Lunch, Main Course, Vegan, Veganised
Servings: 4 people


Preparing the Stir Fry

  • 1 block firm tofu drained and pressed
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger minced
  • 150 grams fine green beans chopped
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 1 tsp white pepper

The Sauce

  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce I used sriracha

Serve with

  • Lettuce cups Iceberg and butterhead lettuce work well
  • Spring onions chopped
  • Cilantro (Chinese parsley)
  • Sesame seeds


  • Combine the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. 
  • Heat up a large pan over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, and saute until golden brown, about 3 minutes. (I didn’t use oil, but you can if you want to. Instead I deglazed the pan with a splash of water whenever necessary)
  • Add in the garlic and ginger, saute for another 2 minutes. 
  • Add in the green beans, and stir fry for about 3 minutes. 
  • Crumble in the tofu, and add the five-spice powder, pepper and tamari. Stir fry for about another 2 minutes. 
  • Add in the sauce, ensuring that all the ingredients are coated with it by stirring well. Stir fry for another 2 minutes.


  • Portion out the tofu stir fry in the lettuce cups, garnishing with the chopped spring onions, cilantro and sesame seeds!


To ensure the tofu doesn’t retain too much water, I like to prepare it by freezing the tofu (drain the liquid that comes in the pack with the tofu first), and then letting it thaw overnight. This will allow it to lose most of the water. Before I crumble it into the pan, I like to squeeze out as much of the water as possible as well!
Tried this recipe?Share it with me @herbiflor.a or tag #herbiflora!

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