Ah, dear reader, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you a recipe that is as rich in flavor as it is steeped in history – Lo Han Jai, also known as Buddha Delight or Buddhist Vegetarian Stew. This sumptuous vegetarian dish was traditionally served first on Chinese New Year and is believed to bring good luck for the year ahead.
Lo Han Jai is a delightfully complex mixture of ingredients, each with its unique flavor and texture. While its ingredients vary often include dried shiitake mushrooms, fresh bean sprouts, snow peas, firm tofu, vegetable broth, napa cabbage, carrot, water chestnuts, bamboo shoot, and dried lily buds. The dish can also be found with other ingredients such as cí gū (black fungus), sǔn (shoots), and fǔ zhú (curd sticks or bean threads). This dish can include any mix of ingredients depending on where it’s being served.
What makes this dish so special is not only its delicious flavors but also its significance in Buddhist culture. Buddha Delight Lo Han Jai is a cherished vegetarian dish that has been enjoyed since ancient times. In addition to being a staple food for monks during religious ceremonies and rituals in China and other countries throughout Asia, this vegetarian stew holds Buddhist religious meaning as well. It’s believed that “Lo Han” refers to 18 original followers of Buddha who abstained from meat and lived very simple lives.
So come along with me on a journey through time and delight your senses with the taste of this traditional Chinese dish. Its unique blend of flavors will transport you back through the centuries while giving you a modern-day culinary experience.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
My dear reader, let me tell you why this Lo Han Jai – Buddhist Vegetarian Stew is something that will make your taste buds dance with delight. This vegetarian dish is not only healthy but also incredibly flavorful, and it’s perfect for meatless Mondays or during the Chinese New Year.
Firstly, this stew has a variety of ingredients that make it a delicious combination of flavors and textures. Fresh bean sprouts and snow peas add a delightful crunch to the dish, while the napa cabbage and carrots give it a soft texture. The water chestnuts and bamboo shoots provide the perfect balance of sweetness in this savory delight.
Secondly, our protein of choice is firm tofu which provides a nice chewy texture along with some plant-based protein. Dried shiitake mushrooms and lily buds also add depth to the broth with their earthy flavors.
Thirdly, this recipe can accommodate various dietary restrictions. It is vegan-friendly, so all our plant-loving friends can enjoy it without any worries. In addition, since chicken broth can be substituted for vegetable broth or plain water, vegetarians who don’t consume animal products can still savor this versatile vegetable stew.
Lastly, this recipe is perfect for big family gatherings or potlucks as it can be easily doubled or tripled to feed a large number of people. And as leftovers often taste better the next day, you’re in luck if you have extra portions left over!
So my dear reader, if you’re looking for a new vegetarian dish to liven up your meal times, I suggest giving this Lo Han Jai – Buddhist Vegetarian Stew recipe a try. It’s flavorful, diverse, healthy and easy to make — what’s not to love?
Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need for this Lo Han Jai – Buddhist Vegetarian Stew recipe.
- 1 piece dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in cold water
- 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup cornstarch, mixed with 1/2 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 can (8 oz) bamboo shoots, drained and sliced
- 1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and sliced
- 6 oz firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
- 1 small head Napa cabbage, clean and cut into bite-size pieces
- 4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut into thin slices
- 4 oz fresh bean sprouts or snow peas
- 10 pcs lily buds
- 4 pcs curd sticks (optional)
Note: The ingredients of Lo Han Jai may vary often depending on the variation or substitution. Some of the most commonly included ingredients are dried shiitake mushrooms, black fungus (also known as black moss), bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, Napa cabbage, carrot, fresh bean sprouts or snow peas, fried tofu or plain firm tofu. It can also include other vegetables like yam bean, lotus root and white radish. For the vegetarian version, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.*
The Recipe How-To
Now that you have gathered all the necessary ingredients, it’s time to start cooking!
Step 1: Soaking Dried Ingredients
Before starting to cook, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms and lily buds to help soften them. To do this, place them in a bowl with cold water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the soaked ingredients before cooking.
Step 2: Preparing The Vegetables And Tofu
Cut the napa cabbage into small square pieces, wash and drain with water. Julliene the carrot into thin strips about 2 inches long. Rinse and remove the ends of the snow peas. Rinse and chop water chestnuts and bamboo shoots into small cubes.
Pat dry one pound of firm tofu with a paper towel or kitchen towel. Cut tofu into medium-sized cubes of about an inch each.
Step 3: Cooking The Dish
Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat, add some vegetable oil, and swirl it around to coat. Add the cubed tofu and stir-fry until lightly browned all around. Remove from wok/skillet onto a plate.
Next, add some more oil to the wok/skillet over medium-high heat. once hot, add in chopped garlic (optional) until fragrant. Then add in napa cabbage squares, cubed bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and carrots strips. Stir-fry together for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened.
Add in bean sprouts, snow peas and any other vegetables you’d like to use in this lo han jai recipe to suit your taste preferences. Continue stir-frying for another minute or so.
Step 4: Making The Broth
Add both vegetable broth and chicken broth to the wok/skillet (use whichever of these broths you prefer or have on hand). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low-medium heat.
In a separate small bowl, mix cornstarch with cold water until dissolved without lumps. Then pour the cornstarch solution into the wok/skillet while stirring slowly so as not to break up vegetables too much.
Add soy sauce according to your preference for saltiness — about one tablespoon initially should suffice — then adjust as desired later on.
Add in all pre-soaked ingredients – the dried shiitake mushrooms, lily buds, and bean curd stick threads (腐竹 fǔ zhú). Cover wok/skillet with lid or foil wrap simmer together for another 10-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked and broth has thickened slightly.
Step 5: Serving And Pairing
Lo han jai is a versatile vegetarian stew that can be served on its own or as part of a meal along with rice or noodles. Garnish with fresh herbs
Substitutions and Variations
There are a variety of substitutions and variations you can make to this Lo Han Jai recipe to cater to your taste preferences or dietary restrictions.
For a gluten-free option, be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce and replace the cornstarch with arrowroot powder.
If you prefer a heartier dish, add in some cubed potatoes or sweet potatoes. You can also swap out the tofu for seitan or tempeh for added texture and protein.
If some ingredients are difficult to find, don’t worry! You can use other similar vegetables instead. For example, you can substitute snow peas with sugar snap peas or green beans, replace water chestnuts with sliced bamboo shoots, or use shiitake mushrooms instead of dried shiitake. There’s plenty of room for experimentation with this dish.
If you’re looking for a spicier kick, add some chili flakes or hot sauce. Alternatively, opt for a sweeter flavor by including sliced lotus root or daikon radish in the mix.
No matter what substitutions or variations you make, remember that Lo Han Jai is traditionally served on the first day of the Chinese New Year as a vegetarian dish symbolizing abundance and good luck. So be creative and enjoy this delicious Buddha Delight Vegetable Stew!
Serving and Pairing
When it comes to serving Lo Han Jai, there are a number of traditional options that will pair perfectly with this vegetarian stew. As this dish is traditionally served on the first day of the Chinese New Year as part of the Buddhist vegetarian feast, it is best enjoyed with a variety of different dishes that celebrate the new year.
One popular option for pairing with Lo Han Jai is vegetarian stir fry, which can be made with a variety of different vegetables and tofu. Another traditional option is Buddha’s Delight, which is an assortment of vegetables and tofu in a light soy sauce.
If you’re looking for something heartier to go with your Lo Han Jai, consider pairing it with white or brown rice. This will help soak up all of the delicious broth and give you a satisfying meal that is both filling and healthy.
In addition to these traditional pairings, there are also a number of other side dishes that work well with Lo Han Jai. Fresh bean sprouts and snow peas make an excellent choice, as their crunchy texture complements the soft tofu and vegetables in the stew. For something a little bit more filling, consider serving Lo Han Jai alongside some steamed dumplings or sesame balls.
No matter how you choose to enjoy your Lo Han Jai, make sure to savor every bite and celebrate the start of a new year with friends and family.
Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating
My dear readers,
Do not fret about serving this delicious Lo Han Jai for a large gathering because this dish can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to two days. In fact, making it ahead of time can deepen the flavors and make it even more delicious! Simply let the stew cool completely before transferring it into an air-tight container.
To reheat, place the container on a stovetop over low heat and stir occasionally. If you need to reheat individual servings, microwave them for 1-2 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Alternatively, you could also freeze the stew for up to a month. To do so, let it cool completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container. When you’re ready to eat it again, thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove or microwave as usual.
It’s important to note that when reheating, you may need to add some water or broth to thin out the consistency since the vegetable and tofu will absorb some of the liquid as they sit. Don’t forget to adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Overall, whether you have leftovers or you intend to make this vegetarian delight ahead of serving time, rest assured that it will still taste just as good as when it’s first made!
The Vegan Chef’s Articulate Assistant
Tips for Perfect Results
When it comes to making Lo Han Jai, the Buddhist Vegetarian Stew Recipe, there are several tips and suggestions that can help guarantee success in every batch. As with any recipe, the details matter, so here are a few pointers to keep in mind to ensure your Lo Han Jai is the best it can be.
Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of preparation. As mentioned earlier, this dish includes numerous ingredients, many of which require soaking or boiling prior to adding them to the stew. It’s crucial to take the time to soak or cook these items thoroughly before beginning the recipe; otherwise, they can be tough and chewy. Dried shiitake mushrooms, for instance, will require at least 30 minutes of soaking in cold water before using them in your recipe.
Another vital tip for perfect results is to cut your vegetables uniformly. By doing so, you’ll ensure that they all cook evenly and finish producing a well-balanced stew without some ingredients becoming overcooked and others underdone. In addition, make sure to chop dense veggies such as carrots and napa cabbage more thinly than others such as bean sprouts or snow peas.
Proper seasoning is also key to making a satisfying Lo Han Jai; do not hesitate in using an ample amount of soy sauce when preparing it according to taste. It gives the right umami and savoriness, so be generous with it. Cornstarch could also help if additional thickness is necessary.
Finally, choose high-quality vegetable broth while cooking Lo Han Jai; try avoiding using water since broth gives depth flavors rather than just adding bland liquid. Furthermore, resist adding salt until you’ve tasted the broth or sauce since both soy sauce and vegetable broth could have varying amounts of salt itself.
By following these helpful tips and suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to creating perfectly delicious Lo Han Jai every time – even if you’re preparing it for special events like Chinese New Year celebrations!
As a savvy assistant for a vegan chef, I’ve gained the ability to anticipate many questions about this vegetarian dish. For this reason, I’ve prepared some frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help clarify any doubts you may have. These answers are based on my experience and expertise, as well as some research on the most common inquiries that many ask when trying to make this recipe. So, read on to find out all you need to know about Lo Han Jai – Buddhist Vegetarian Stew Recipe!
What is Jai made of?
When cooked, tofu and fried gluten balls have the ability to absorb a significant amount of flavor and liquid into their porous structure. Typically, you can locate these fried gluten balls that are made of wheat gluten, water, and oil, as well as regular tofu, in the refrigerated section of Asian markets. The small gluten balls, measuring around 2 inches each, are commonly displayed right beside the regular tofu.
What’s in Buddha’s feast?
For this vegan recipe, we will be using a variety of traditional Chinese ingredients to create a flavorful and nutritious dish. These ingredients include arrowroot, bamboo shoots, bean curd sticks or bean threads, black mushrooms, cellophane or mung bean noodles, day lily buds, fat choy or black moss, and Ginkgo nuts. Each of these ingredients adds a unique texture and taste to the final product, making it an exciting and delicious meal for vegans and non-vegans alike.
What is Buddhist monks vegetable?
For an appetizing vegetarian meal, it’s common to use a combination of dried vegetables, edible fungi, tofu products, and fresh vegetables. This dish is commonly known as Buddha Delight or Monk’s Vegetable, and in Chinese it’s referred to as 羅漢齋 (lo han zai) or 齋菜 (zai choi). It’s a tradition in my family to prepare this dish every year on this day.
What is Buddha’s Feast in Chinese food?
Buddha’s Delight is a dish commonly served during Lunar New Year celebrations in China. Its contents are diverse, but typically incorporate various elements such as dried shiitake mushrooms, dried lily buds, and bean curds, among other ingredients.
In conclusion, this Lo Han Jai – Buddhist Vegetarian Stew Recipe is a wonderful dish to celebrate the Chinese New Year or any occasion that calls for a flavorful and nutritious vegetarian meal. With a wide range of delicious and healthy ingredients, this recipe is perfect for anyone who loves traditional Asian cuisine or wants to explore new flavors and textures.
Whether you follow a vegan, vegetarian or conscious eating lifestyle, this dish will satisfy your cravings for a hearty and comforting stew without sacrificing taste or nutrition. So why not give it a try? You might discover a new favorite recipe that will become a staple in your kitchen for years to come.
I hope these instructions, tips and recommendations have been helpful for you to create the perfect Lo Han Jai – Buddhist Vegetarian Stew. Remember to experiment with different variations and substitutions to make it your own. And don’t forget to enjoy this delectable vegetarian delight with family and friends.
Thank you for reading, learning, experimenting and above all, enjoying the art of food!
Lo Han Jai - Buddhist Vegetarian Stew Recipe
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 Chinese black mushrooms
- 1/2 cup dried black fungus (cloud ears)
- 1/2 cup bamboo shoot, sliced
- 8 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 carrot, peeled & julienned lengthwise
- 2 cups napa cabbage, torn into small pieces
- 1 cup vegetable broth or 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 ounces rice noodles (bean thread, Chinese vermicelli)
- 1 cup firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 snow peas
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low-sodium preferred)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes; squeeze out the excess water; then remove stems and leave the mushrooms whole. Reserve the soaking water.
- Soak the cloud ears in warm water until soft (about 10 minutes), then cut into smaller pieces.
- Boil the bean thread in water to cover for 5 minutes, then drain.
- To prep the snow peas, remove the strings, then cut into thin slivers.
- Mix the water and cornstarch to form a slurry for thickening. The cornstarch will continue to settle out, so you'll need to stir this again just before you use it.
- Heat wok until smoky. Add vegetable oil. Stir-fry mushrooms, cloud ears, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrot, cabbage and cook for 3-4 minutes over high heat.
- Add bean thread and broth. Cover and cook for 5 minutes over low heat.
- Add tofu, bean sprouts, snow peas and soy sauce. Cover and simmer for two minutes.
- Stir the water and cornstarch mixture, then add to the pan to form a light gravy, adjusting if necessary.
- Drizzle with sesame oil.
- Note: Traditional Lo Han Jai ingredients include: ginkgo nuts, lotus root, dried oysters, lily stems, seaweed hair, fried tofu, and dried bean curd sticks. If you live near an oriental market, you may be able to get these; if not, this simplified recipe will give you a sense of the dish.
Add Your Own Notes
Recommended Recipes Just For You
Jolo is a talented chef and food blogger with a passion for vegan and Caribbean flavors. From savory vegetarian dishes to tropical smoothies, Jolo’s Kitchen has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for meat-free meals or creative Caribbean recipes, Jolo’s Kitchen is the perfect place for you.