Buddha’s Delight – A Chinese Vegan Recipe

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Celebrate Chinese New Year with Buddha’s Delight, a delicious vegan dish filled with a variety of vegetables and tofu, and thought to ensure good luck for the year ahead!

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Buddha's Delight Vegan Stir-Fry

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Buddha’s Delight

As you may have guessed from the name, it is a dish enjoyed by Buddist monks who are vegetarians but is popular around the world. It is a comforting and delicious recipe filled with vegetables.

Buddha’s Delight, known as Luóhàn zhāi (Mandarin) or lo han jai (Cantonese), is often served on the first day of Chinese New Year.

This stems from the old Buddhist practice that one should maintain a vegetarian diet in the first five days of the new year, as a form of self-purification.

It’s a great vegan or vegetarian option at Chinese restaurants as it does not contain eggs or dairy, as these ingredients are traditionally not permitted.

A bowl of tofu cubes

Ingredients used in this recipe

This vegan dish is usually made with at least 10 ingredients ( although more elaborate versions may comprise 18 or even 35 ingredients ) and can be quite complex, with a variety of exotic ingredients like gingko nuts, lotus seeds, bamboo fungus, and lotus root.

This Buddha’s Delight recipe has been simplified for easier cooking and to be more palatable to Western tastes. However, if you want to try cooking a more authentic version, check out this recipe for Lo Han Jai.

These ingredients can be found at almost any Asian grocery store, and possibly in regular stores too.

The full ingredients list, quantities, and instructions are found in the printable recipe card at the end of this post, but here is a brief outline so you know what to expect from the recipe.

I highly recommend always reading a recipe all the way through before starting.

Dried Mushrooms

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Buddha's Delight Vegetable & Tofu Stir-Fry
 

Buddha’s Delight Recipe Tips

  • Many Chinese dishes are cooked very quickly and the key to this is having all the ingredients cut and prepared in advance.
  • Dried mushrooms have to be soaked for 20-30 minutes or until they are soft and pliable. Squeeze out the excess water and cut off and discard any woody stems.
  • The mushroom water can be saved and used in soups and other dishes, but filter it first to get rid of any sand or grit.
  • This recipe is part stir-fried and part braised until the sauce has thickened.
  • The vegetables listed in the recipe are suggestions – you could leave any out that you don’t like, or add in others such as bok choy, bell pepper, or courgette/zucchini.
  • Braised Gluten (Seitan Tidbits) are Asian mock meat that is vegan/vegetarian. It can be used straight from the can in stir-fries, rice dishes, noodle dishes, salads, and more.
  • Gluten is a wheat flour dough that has had the starch washed away so it is spongy and porous rather like tofu, but much firmer. In China, gluten is used as mock meat because it can be cooked in the same way. It is a great option for vegans who cannot eat soy, since other popular vegan foods, such as tofu and tempeh, are soy-based.
  • You should be able to find Braised Gluten in cans at Asian supermarkets.
  • The tofu in this recipe has to be fried first. Use firm tofu and fry in oil in a hot wok. Drain on paper towels before using in the recipe.
Buddha's Delight
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A plateful of Vegetarian Buddha's Delight with vegetables and tofu.

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Buddha's Delight

Buddha's Delight

Yield: 6-8
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Buddha's Delight, a delicious vegan dish filled with a variety of vegetables and tofu, and thought to ensure good luck for the year ahead!

Ingredients

  • 20 dried Chinese or shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 300g/10oz broccoli florets, large ones cut in half
  • 300g/10oz baby corn, sliced in half lengthways
  • ½ Chinese/napa cabbage, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 115g/4oz snow peas/mangetout
  • 225g/8oz canned bamboo shoots, drained
  • 225g/8oz canned water chestnuts, drained and sliced in half through the middle
  • 450g/16oz firm tofu, cut into squares and fried
  • 1 can braised gluten tidbits, drained, optional
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • Steamed rice or noodle for serving

Instructions

  1. Soak mushrooms for 30 minutes. When done soaking, squeeze out water and cut off any tough stalks.
  2. Heat a wok until very hot then add the vegetable oil.
  3. Stir-fry the mushrooms ginger and carrots for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add broccoli, baby corn, cabbage, and snow peas and stir-fry for another minute.
  5. Add bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, tofu, and braised glute if using and stir.
  6. Pour in the vegetable stock and soy sauce, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until liquid has thickened.
  7. Serve over rice or noodles.
  8. A plate of Buddha's Delight
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 233 Total Fat: 9g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 666mg Carbohydrates: 29g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 6g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 12g
This site uses an outside source (Nutritionix) to provide estimated nutrition. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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