China is home to an unparalleled wonder of riches when it comes to food. Each region has its own distinct cuisine and signature dishes, many of which contain a mind-boggling number of weird and wonderful ingredients and require a cooking process as complicated and precise as a formula for splicing genes. There are, however, other Chinese dishes that are just as lip-smacking but a damn sight easier to make, even in the pokey little galley kitchen of your Chinese apartment. And given the fact that daily meat consumption is a fairly modern phenomenon here in China, many of the tastiest and simplest dishes are entirely meat-free. Here I bring you five amazing vegetarian/vegan Chinese dishes that are easy to cook at home. All the ingredients can be sourced from any Chinese supermarket.
Source: Guilhem Vellut
This vegan summer favorite takes noodles to a whole new realm
China is a land of many noodle dishes, but one of the best and most unusual is definitely liangpi, which, a little creepily, translates directly to “cool skin”. Hailing from Shaanxi province and most famously found in the capital of Xi’an, these cold noodles serve up a refreshing vegan snack on a steamy summer’s day. Even better, you won’t work up a sweat preparing them.
INGREDIENTS: 1/4 cup of Chili Oil, 2 teaspoons of Black Vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Light Soy Sauce, 1 teaspoon of Sesame Oil, 1 tablespoon of Toasted Sesame Seeds, 1 teaspoon of Sichuan Peppercorn Powder, ½ teaspoon of Sugar, ¼ teaspoon of Salt, 2 cloves of Minced Garlic, 200g of packaged Liangpi Noodles, 1.5 cups of Beansprouts, 100g of Wheat Gluten (Miàn Jīn - 面筋), 1/4 cup of Cilantro, ½ Cucumber
TIME: 20 mins
1. Toast the sesame seeds for a minute or so in a hot, dry pan. Place to one side.
2. To make the sauce, combine the chili oil, black vinegar, light soy sauce, sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, Sichuan peppercorn powder, sugar, salt, and minced garlic.
3. Take the pack of liangpi noodles, cook according to the instructions (usually a quick two-minute blanche) and allow to cool in a large bowl ready to mix.
4. Steam the wheat gluten and beansprouts for approximately five minutes on a high heat. Allow to cool before adding to the noodles along with the cilantro and cucumber.
5. Pour the sauce into the bowl and toss everything again. Taste before serving and adjust seasonings as required.
Source: Gary Stevens
Tomato Egg Soup (Fānqié dàn tāng - 番茄蛋汤)
A simple but hearty vegetarian comfort food
One of the first dishes the Chinese learn to cook as kids, tomato egg soup is as simple as it is delicious. When you just want something to warm you up and fill your belly, look no farther than this classic, cheap and scrummy soup.
INGREDIENTS: 2 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil, 1 large Tomato cut into chunks, 3 cups of Chicken Stock (replace with vegetable stock for vegetarian option), 2 teaspoons of Light Soy Sauce, 1/2 teaspoon of Sesame Oil, 1/4 teaspoon of White Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of Salt, 1 beaten Egg, 1.5 teaspoons of Cornstarch, 1 chopped Green Onion (Spring Onion/Scallion)
TIME: 15 minutes
1. Using a wok, heat the oil on a medium-low heat. Mix in the chunks of tomato and stir-fry for five minutes until they begin to fall apart.
2. Add the stock, light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, and salt. Wait until it boils and lower the heat until the soup simmers. Leave the lid on the pot.
3. Beat the egg in a bowl and prepare the cornstarch slurry in another bowl (mix 1.5 teaspoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and whisk into a slurry).
4. Slowly swirl the cornstarch slurry into the soup until it is well mixed. Pour a thin stream of egg into the middle of the soup as you continue to swirl.
5. Serve hot with added chopped green onions on top.
Source: Edsel Little
This spicy vegan side dish will up your dinner party game
Lotus root is one of those vegetables that many foreigners don’t come across until they visit China. But just because it’s exotic, doesn’t mean it’s difficult to cook. Lotus root is a surprisingly flexible ingredient that improves many dishes with its satisfyingly crunchy texture, but this no-fuss five-minute stir fry makes it the star of the show.
INGREDIENTS: 320g of Lotus Root, 1 tablespoon of Cooking Oil, 4 cloves of Sliced Garlic, 1 tablespoon of Broad Bean Chili Paste (Dòubàn - 豆瓣), 4 Sliced Chillies, 1/4 teaspoon of Sugar, 1 Chopped Green Onion (Spring Onion/Scallion)
TIME: 5 minutes
1. Peel the lotus root. Throw out the dark skin and chop the remaining root into thin wheel-like slices.
2. Boil a pot of water and blanch the slices for approximately two minutes before draining well.
3. Heat the oil in a wok, add the garlic and broad bean chili paste, and fry until aromatic.
4. Add fresh chili and the lotus root slices. Stir fry until all pieces are evenly covered in seasoning.
5. Throw in the scallions and give it one last stir before serving.
Tu Dou Si is an absolute lifesaver for foreigners missing a taste of home when they first move to China. Faced with many new and intimidating cuisines, I would breathe a sigh of relief when I saw this dish of stir-fried shredded potato on a menu. You’ll be glad to know that China’s answer to French Fries is easy to cook up at home and much better for you.
INGREDIENTS: 1 tablespoon of Cooking Oil, 2 Potatoes, 1 large sliced Spicy Green Pepper, 3 Dried Deseeded Chills, 1/2 tablespoon of Sichuan Peppercorns, 3 cloves of Sliced Garlic, 1 tablespoon of Black Vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of Salt
TIME: 15 minutes
1. Peel the potato and cut into thin slices.
2. Wash the slices under a tap and drain thoroughly before cutting into matchstick-sized strips.
3. Put a wok on a high heat, pour in the oil, and add the Sichuan peppercorn and dried chili. Sizzle until aromatic.
4. Add the potato strips, cloves of sliced garlic, and green pepper. Stir until the potato is completely cooked while still retaining some crunch
5. Add the salt and black vinegar. Stir once more and serve.
Source: Craig Dugas
Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐)
A Sichuan favorite that offers a real kick
Despite tofu having a reputation as the dreary consolation prize for worthy vegetarians in the West, mapo tofu is hands down one of the best dishes in China. Even in Sichuan, a province with a proud culinary tradition, this dish stands out among its most famous and revered. But you don’t need to travel all the way to Chengdu (or round the corner to the Sichuan restaurant, wherever you are in China) to try the spicy tofu. It’s easy enough to make at home. And while the original version is made with ground pork and chicken stock, vegan substitutions are easily made.
INGREDIENTS: 120 grams of Ground Pork (replace with plant-based mince or finely chopped mushrooms/eggplant for a vegan version), 2 teaspoons of Shaoxing Rice Wine, 1 teaspoon of Light Soy Sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of Ginger Powder, 1.5 teaspoons of Cornstarch, 2 teaspoons of Sichuan Peppercorns, 1 tablespoon of Vegetable Oil, 3 tablespoons of Broad Bean Chili Paste (Dòubàn - 豆瓣), 2 tablespoons of Chopped Green Onion (Spring Onion/Scallion), 400 grams of Firm Tofu cut into even one-inch cubes, 1 Teaspoon of Sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of Five-Spice Powder, 1/4 cup of Water, 2 teaspoons of Chili Oil, 1 cup of Chicken Stock (replace with vegetable stock for the vegan version).
TIME: 25 mins
1. Mix the ground pork (or alternative), rice wine, light soy sauce, and ginger powder in a bowl.
2. Mix the cornstarch and a tablespoon of water in a bowl to make a slurry. Put to one side.
3. Heat the Sichuan peppercorns and vegetable oil in a large skillet on a medium-high heat. Wait until the peppercorns turn crispy and dark and take them out and soak off the excess oil with a paper towel. (Pro tip: if this stage is too much of a faff, you can use ready-ground Sichuan peppercorns, but the flavor won’t be as punchy).
4. Add the ground pork/alternative and the broad bean chili paste. Fry on a medium heat until everything is equally covered in the paste. Mix in the green onion and stir for an additional minute.
5. Cover the tofu with the ground pork/alternative and mix in the chili oil, five-spice powder, and sugar. Add 1/4 cup of water and simmer. Keep it covered on a low heat for 15 minutes until the sauce is half its original amount.
6. Grind the fried Sichuan peppercorns with a grinder, pestle and mortar or crush under the side of a cleaver.
7. Add the cornstarch slurry and stir until the sauce thickens. Turn off heat and move everything over to a bowl.
8. For the final touch, sprinkle over some green onion and the ground Sichuan peppercorns.
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Keywords: foreigners living and working in Shenzhen
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Tomato Egg Soup is awesome! It's not only easy to make and tasty, but it is also very healthy. The main pats of it are tomatoes, eggs, and chicken broth. Tomatoes are full of nutrients including Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin K1, and Folate (Vitamin B9).
Apr 21, 2021 10:10 Report Abuse
Greetings. Vegetarians eat eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt... basically, anything they don't consider flesh (it's true, some vegetarians consider eggs flesh, but it's a smaller percentage). Vegans, on the other hand, don't eat (or buy) anything related to animal use (if they are pure vegans). So, no honey, no leather, and other things, like most sugar is processed with animal byproducts, so they only buy "vegan" sugar,. etc.
Apr 21, 2021 03:15 Report Abuse
Biang Biang noodles not only is this dish famous in Shaanxi, in particularly in Xi'an. It is also popular for its delectable taste and texture, it’s also renowned for the special character used in its name. Thick, broad, hand-pulled noodles seasoned with chilli, garlic and Sichuan pepper, Xi’an Biang Biang noodles offer a delectable taste and texture.
Apr 20, 2021 10:08 Report Abuse