Pork and mushroom san choy bau

I feel like san choy bau is a Chinese dish a lot of people have either eaten or seen, but they did not know the same of. It is basically a lettuce wrap, with minced and stir-fried meat inside. It is such a simple recipe, as with most Chinese dishes, but it is one of my favorites. The crunchy lettuce leaf, the juicy meat filling, the unctuous sauce that is coating your meat, I crave this all the time. I used pork and mushrooms for my filling, because I wanted to have this meatier texture, but you can really use whatever proteins you have on hand. San choy bau does not discriminate! Use beef, chicken, even fish, they all work with the sauce and that crunchy lettuce. Typically, iceberg lettuce is used for this dish, but I used butter lettuce since I like how much more flexible the leaves are: it makes for less of a mess when eating it. I also topped mine with some shaved watermelon radish, since I actually used some dished watermelon radish in the filling to add some heat and crunch.

Makes 4 servings of san choy bau:
1 slab of pork belly, fat removed and reserved and meat minced
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup hot water
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 clove black garlic
2 shallots
1 red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon black vinegar
1 tablespoon fermented black bean paste
2 watermelon radishes
butter lettuce leaves

Rehydrate your mushrooms in the hot water first. Once soft, mince up your mushrooms. Peel and dice your garlics, ginger, and shallots. Peel and medium dice one of the watermelon radishes as well as one of your bell peppers, making sure to peel off the pepper skin and remove the seeds as well. In a pan on low heat, render out your reserved pork fat, allowing it to line the pan. Remove the pork fat then sweat out the garlics, ginger, bell pepper, and shallot with salt first. Add to that your sesame oil, mushrooms, black bean paste, and pork belly and allow the pork belly to cook in the pan. Deglaze with the soy, mushroom soy, and black vinegar, then add in your diced radishes. Allow everything to simmer down together on low heat until the liquid has mostly evaporated into a glaze to coat your pork with. Serve the san choy bau with shaved watermelon radish and the lettuce leaves.

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