Tofu and Mushroom San Choy Bau

by | Feb 19, 2022 | Dinner, Plant Proteins, Recipes, Vegan

This vegan twist on a Cantonese classic is a wonderful option when you are either consciously eating more plant based meals, or you are vegan.  What I truly love about this recipe is that everyone can enjoy it because it is also gluten and dairy free.  Having a dish that you can serve to guests with different dietary requirements in this day and age is very special.

This recipe is the winner for Performance in Health February 2022 recipe competition due to all of the above reasons but also because it is totally delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare on a weeknight.

I have always loved San choy bau (bow).  The flavour and texture of the hot mixture combined with the cold & crisp lettuce leaves makes eating this dish such an enjoyable experience.  There is a Chinese inspired restaurant near where I live in inner west Sydney that has a beautiful vegan, gluten free San choy bau on their menu.  I order it every time and so when I saw this recipe entry into our competition, I was delighted.  And it didn’t fail to impress with flavour either.

Another reason I was impressed with this recipe is because it used both mushrooms and tofu meaning that it has adequate protein.  I love vegan food when thought has been given to eating enough protein.

Within this dish, since it is gluten-free, Tamari has been used however you could also use coconut aminos or gluten free soy sauce.

Rice wine vinegar adds a little tartness that works well with the chilli and maple syrup.  I much prefer maple syrup to the processed sweet chilli sauces and sugars used in many similar recipes.

This recipe uses some raw sesame seeds that have been dry fried however if you want to make this dish nut-free, simply exclude this ingredient.

Fresh garlic and ginger are two of my favourite super herbs and they stand tall in this recipe.

Mushrooms are a powerhouse of nutrients, full of fibre, protein, and antioxidants.  A formidable source of Vitamin B2, B12 and B5, they also contain magnesium, selenium and more.

Eating soy is a controversial subject.  My recommendation is to mainly eat the fermented soy products such as tempeh and miso and avoid processed soy such as soy milk. One of the main reasons is that soy contains phytoestrogens which have the ability to alter hormonal balance.  This can be used therapeutically for some people however with other health conditions it can be negative when eaten in excess.  As a naturopath I encourage moderation in regard to tofu and all soy products and when eaten once or twice a week, it is beneficial to health.   

This recipe serves four or is perfect for less people as left-overs are even yummier.


  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of Tamari
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Maple Syrup
  • 1 thumb size piece of fresh ginger chopped finely
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 Spring onions, sliced finely or half a red onion
  • 1-2 large green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of finely diced fennel or ½ stick of finely diced celery
  • 1 Carrot, grated
  • 200 grams of button or Swiss brown mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 block of firm tofu (200 gram), chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ½ small can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped finely
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped in small pieces
  • Handful of snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp Lime juice
  • ½ cup coriander, finely chopped
  • Handful of raw sesame seeds
  • 8 iceberg lettuce leaves, separated and kept in fridge to keep crisp
  • 1 tsp of lime juice


Dry fry your sesame seeds for a few minutes on medium heat until they start to lightly brown, then set aside

In a large frying pan or wok, add coconut oil to high heat.

Once melted, add garlic, ginger, garlic, fennel, spring onions, chilli and stir until fragrant.

Add carrot, mushrooms, asparagus, and snow peas and stir fry for 5 minutes.

Add the tofu, cabbage and water chestnuts and stir fry for another 4 or 5 minutes.

Now add the tamari, sesame oil, rice wine and maple syrup and cook for another few minutes until the liquid has reduced.

Turn off the heat and add your lime juice and coriander.

Add coriander and lime juice. Mix through.

Scoop mixture into each lettuce leaf and top with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.