Buddha's Delight (Lo Hon Jai): Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry Recipe

Buddha's Delight (Lo Hon Jai): Chinese Vegetarian Stir-Fry Recipe

Buddha's Delight is a celebration of vegetarian textures and flavors. [Photographs: Shao Z.]

Tired of the same old vegetarian stir fry? Buddha's Delight is just what you need. A celebratory mixture of multiple vegetables and protein sources (wheat gluten, bean-curd skin, bean-curd puffs, and more), noodles, and a flavorful sauce infused with mushrooms, it's a reminder that vegetarian stir-fries don't have to be the same old ho-hum dish every time.

Why this recipe works:

  • Using the dried-shiitake soaking liquid in the sauce adds lots of flavor with no additional work.
  • A mixture of soybean and wheat-gluten proteins add several different textures and flavors.

Note: All of the specialty Asian ingredients in this recipe can be found at good Asian grocers and online.

  • Yield:Serves 2 to 4
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:3 hours

Ingredients

  • For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup reserved shiitake mushroom water (see below)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce; see note)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • For the Stir-Fry:
  • 1/4 pound Napa cabbage (about 4 leaves), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 pound baby bok choy, large ones halved and small ones left whole
  • 3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in cold water overnight or hot water for at least 2 hours; mushrooms squeezed of excess liquic and soaking water strained and reserved
  • 1 bean curd stick, soaked in cold water overnight or hot water for at least 2 hours (see note)
  • 4 tofu puffs (see note)
  • 1 3/4 ounces bean thread noodle, soaked in cold water overnight or hot water for at least 2 hours (1 small pack; see note)
  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 5 ounces chai pow yu from 1 drained (10-ounce) can (Chinese braised gluten; see note)
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions

  1. 1.

    For the sauce: In a bowl, add reserved mushroom liquid, garlic, sesame oil, kecap manis, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.

  2. 2.

    For the Stir-Fry: Bring a wok or pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add Napa cabbage and baby bok chop and cook until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water until chilled. Pat dry with towels.

  3. 3.

    Rinse rehydrated mushrooms under cold running water. Squeeze out excess water and slice thinly.

  4. 4.

    Drain beak curd stick. Using scissors, cut rehydrated bean curd stick into 1-inch pieces; cut those pieces in half. Cut tofu puffs in half, then cut those halves on a diagonal to form small triangles.

  5. 5.

    Drain rehydrated bean thread noodle and rinse under cold water. Using scissors, cut the bundle of noodles in half.

  6. 6.

    In a wok or non-stick skillet, heat oil until lightly smoking. Add chai pow yu, mushrooms, tofu puffs, and bean curd stick. Season with salt and stir-fry until mushrooms are golden brown, about 4 minutes.

  7. 7.

    Add Napa cabbage and baby bok choy and stir-fry until vegetables are tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

  8. 8.

    Add bean thread noodles to the middle of the wok and cook, tossing and stirring, for 1 minute. Stir sauce and pour into wok. Cook, stirring to coat ingredients, until sauce thickens and the noodles and tofu puffs have absorbed some of it, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plate and serve immediately with rice alongside.