Chinese cuisine could almost have been invented for vegans. Meat doesn’t play as big a role in
Chinese cookery as it does in the Western world, butter and cheese is very rarely used, most noodles
are made from rice flour and there is always an abundance of fresh vegetables. So in this article, we
will look at three dishes you should be able to order at any authentic Chinese takeaway, that are
wholesome, delicious and unashamedly vegan-friendly.
Tofu isn’t just used as a meat substitute in Chinese cookery, it’s a star ingredient. However, in meat
eating countries it is often disregarded, swept under the rug with other vegetarian products like
Quorn and viewed as a processed, flavourless replacement for meat. High end restaurants try and
overcome the stigma that comes with tofu by calling it “bean curd” on the menu, but it’s a naturally
silky and moreish ingredient, capable of taking on strong flavours without being overpowered.
The Buddha’s Delight marries tofu with dried black Chinese mushrooms, fresh ginger and Chinese
rice wine. Vegan soy and oyster sauces combine with the wine to make a beautifully pungent coating
for the tofu, bean thread noodles and fresh vegetables to be dressed in, creating a wonderful
amalgamation that does this dish’s name justice.
Shiitake Wonton Soup
Soups and broths are a huge part of Chinese cookery. When most people order a Chinese, they will
completely skip over the soup section and head straight for the oily curries, but Chinese broths are
light, healthy and pack no less of a flavour punch than any other dish on the menu.
This shiitake wonton soup uses dried mushrooms to add extra layers of flavour to the broth, as well
as incorporating fresh mushrooms and napa cabbage into the soup. Some Chinese eateries will make
their wonton wrappers with eggs, so be sure to check the ingredients used with your server, but
most just use flour, corn-starch, salt and water, making these little floating parcels of shiitake filled
loveliness the perfect accompaniment to the fresh, flavoursome soup. If you fancy having a go
yourself, there’s a great recipe here.
If you’ve never tried Szechuan food before, it’s a spice adventure you need to experience. The
Szechuan pepper itself is quite hot, but it sends a numbing sensation and beautiful floral notes
spinning around your mouth and up into your nose. It really is quite a unique and strangely addictive
Szechuan cuisine features a whole range of Mapo meat dishes, but it’s just as popular with tofu.
Fermented dou-chi black beans, doubanjiang broad bean paste and vegetable broth are mixed
together with the Szechuan spices and reduced to create a beautiful, curry like dish. The tofu is the
perfect vessel for the unusual Szechuan flavours and the dish is enjoyed best with garlic greens and
some simple boiled rice. A tasty vegan-friendly treat to spark your taste buds into life.
For more vegan meal inspiration you can follow my new Instagram account: eatingvegan_uk