Vegetarian San Choy Bau

I challenge people who say they don’t like tofu. It’s a bit like art and music – you are bound to like some version of it. Most people object to the texture and the fact that tofu doesn’t taste like anything. However, this can work to your advantage because tofu will take on the flavors you wish it to in the dish. This recipe does just that and disguises tofu’s texture so much that some people could even be fooled into thinking they were eating meat.

Vegetarian San Choy Bau

Serves 4 – 6

12 ounces firm tofu

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

10.5 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

3 cilantro roots, scrubbed and crushed

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

4 shallots, thinly sliced

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 bunch cilantro leaves

1/2 savoy cabbage


1. Cut the tofu into cubes and place in a pan filled with water.
2. Bring the water to the boil, reduce the heat slightly, and cook until the tofu rises to the surface of the water.
3. Drain the water, blot the tofu dry, and place in a food processor.
4. Mince the tofu into small pieces.
5. Dry roast the pine nuts in a small pan until they turn golden brown and set them aside.
6. Pre-heat a wok on high heat. When the wok is hot, add oil first before putting in the mushrooms, chilli, and crushed cilantro root. Stir-fry for 4 minutes.
7. Add the minced tofu and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and most of the shallots (reserving some for garnish).
8. Stir in the lemon juice, pine nuts, and cilantro leaves.
9. Carefully separate the cabbage leaves and try to keep them whole. Steam the leaves in a bamboo steamer for 5 minutes.
10. Fill each cabbage leaf with the tofu mixture. Top with chopped shallots and, if desired, extra soy sauce for seasoning.