Minced Squab with Lettuce Cups

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    as an appetizer .

Appears in

Chinese Technique

By Ken Hom

Published 1981

  • About

Each guest wraps some of the squab mixture in a lettuce cup. In Chinese etiquette the package is eaten with chopsticks, but it is easier to handle with the hands. The dish usually is served as an early course, functioning as a sort of salad, served with deep-fried transparent noodles.


  • 2 squabs, 1 lb. each
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup minced bamboo shoots
  • 6 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked, squeezed dry, and minced
  • 4 scallions, minced
  • 6 dried oysters, soaked, squeezed dry, and minced (optional) or 4 duck liver sausages, minced
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
  • ½ cup chicken broth reduced with squab bones (see step 7)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons thin soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold chicken broth
  • 2 heads Bibb or iceberg lettuce, leaves carefully separated into lettuce cups


  • Mincing, stir-frying
  • May be prepared in advance through step 12.
  • Suggested Beverage: Gamay, Beaujolais, or light Spanish red wine
  • Using a thin cleaver, cut away the wings.

  • Cut away the thigh joints.

  • Pull off the skin, cutting it where necessary, and set it aside.

  • Bone the breasts. Scrape all the meat you can from the bone. Neatness does not count.

  • To remove the leg meat, make a slit the length of the leg to the bone.

  • Pull the meat away, cutting it off the bone where necessary.

  • Remove the small but tough tendon from each leg. Bone the second squab, then add the bones, feet, head, and wings to 1 cup chicken broth and reduce the liquid to ½ cup.

  • With two cleavers, start chopping the boned meat.

  • Chop until finely minced. Set aside.

  • Thinly slice the squab skin.

  • stir-fry the skin in a little oil to render the fat and crisp the skin. This takes about 10 minutes.

  • As the skin browns, move it up the side of the wok. Set the crisped skin aside. The preceding steps can be done up to 8 hours in advance. Keep the minced squab refrigerated if it must stand longer than 1 hour.

  • stir-fry the squab in the oil with the garlic over high heat until it is browned lightly.

  • Add the remaining minced ingredients, mix them well, and add the reduced chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, and oyster sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir in the cornstarch dissolved in broth.

  • Stir in the crisped skin and transfer the mixture to a serving plate.

  • Serve the dish surrounded by lettuce cups.