This special vegetarian stir-fry dish is a popular festival dish, usually prepared to celebrate first day of Chinese New Year, the celebration of Cheng Beng, or any other cultural events. In our family, grandmother always had this for the children and grand children, but now, mother and aunties take turn preparing it. This week we were celebrating the Cheng Beng week by cooking a lot of grandmother’s favorite dishes and laying them out for praying. After the midday pray, we could all enjoy the dishes or send them out to those who couldn’t come. The usual chaotic yelling and screaming is expected, especially in the kitchen. This is the first time I learned the dish so I got yelled at quite a lot. They were quite persistent that all vegetables and dried items are to be cut the same size. You can certainly tell my cutting was everything but neat. Most families will have their own version of Luo Han Chay, but I can assure you that it is a 100 percent vegetarian dish, a Buddhist dish, so there will be no shallots and garlic. This is our version. Enjoy!
The recipe is enough to feed 4 households, so please adjust accordingly. The cooking method is rather straight forward, prepping work was overwhelming. It is the norm for the dish to have “8” in it, be it 8 ingredients, 8 slices of this, 8 slices of that. We tried to pull the 18 ingredients, but could only manage 12.
The ingredients were added as they were “remembered”. Isn’t it nice, that such important dish in Chinese tradition to be so forgiving? They would be like, oh we have this, or let’s dump this in there. Cabbage, black fungus (wood ear), dried shiitake, mung bean noodles, fried tofu, tofu skin (we got the freshly rolled tofu skin), lily buds, canned vegetarian peking duck, a couple of tomatoes and slices of carrot. Also Chinese green mustard (not shown here) were used. Other ingredients that can be added would be ginkyo nuts, red dates, napa cabbage, black moss, lotus seeds, etc.
The tofu skin were deep fried in deep hot oil for 5 minutes till golden and all crispy. Be careful of the hot splattering oil. It is bound to splatter. After frying, cut them into 5cm length.
The dried ingredients should be soaked in cold water for at least 3 hours in advance. Lily buds are to be tied into little knots and soaked. So do mushrooms, black fungus and mung bean noodles. When soft, drain water and set aside.
Fresh vegetables are to be cut into 5cm length. Tomatoes are quartered. Ginger are scraped off and sliced into 0.5cm thick slices.
This is what was inside canned vegetarian peking duck. The fake duck does look a bit alike the real one with the fake smell. Adorable. Drain the thick juices off and wash under runny tap water to get rid of the juice completely. Slice them into 0.5cm thickness. Other type of vegetarian “meat” can be used, such as frozen vegetarian fish or chicken or prawn.
Since it was a huge batch we were preparing, one and half cup of cooking oil was called for. Heat oil in the biggest and heaviest wok you have over high heat. When the oil is hot enough, not yet smoking, add slices of ginger. Stir fry quickly for a couple of minutes.
Add mushroom and vegetarian peking duck. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add lily buds and carrots. Continue stirring over that high heat. Be patient. Nearly there.
Well, it is not there yet. Add black fungus, deep fried bean curd skin and fried tofu bits.
Stir fried quickly for 30 seconds or less, add 2 cups of hot water into the wok. The water will soak up all the juices. Let the whole thing boil for a minute.
Add the rest of the ingredients (except tomatoes) into the wok.
Season with sugar, salt and soy sauce.
By this time, the water would have been slightly reduced. Add one more cup and enter the last ingredient, tomato slices. Cover with lid for one minute. Uncover and remove from heat. If you are still unsure of the level of seasoning, please try and add more sugar or salt.
There you go. The most colorful and easy with a ton of prep work (all you can dump in there, you can) Luo Han Chay or Buddha’s Delight. The flavors do improve by day, but of course they will be slightly wilted and not as colorful.
Serve with hot steamed rice. I can never eat vegetarian dishes without my fiery dipping sauce – soy sauce and bird’s eye chili. 🙂
- 2 dried mushrooms soaked & cut
- 30 g black fungus soaked
- 100 g dried mung bean noodles soaked
- 200 g cabbage
- 200 g Chinese green mustard
- 2 tomatoes quartered
- 200 g pre-fried tofu cubes halved
- 300 g fresh bean curd skin rolls fried & cut
- 40 g lily buds knotted & soaked
- 30 g fresh ginger sliced
- 1 carrot sliced
- 3 cup water
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Prepare and prep all ingredients. Fry the tofus, soaked dried ingredients, wash and cut the fresh vegetables. If canned vegetarian meat is used, drain and wash and slice the meat. If frozen ones are used, defrost slightly and cut into slices.
Heat cooking oil in wok over high heat. Stir fry ginger slices for a couple of minutes.
Add vegetarian meat, mushrooms, carrot and lily buds. Stir fry quickly.
Add fried bean curd rolls, fried tofu and black fungus. Add two cups of hot water. Cook for a minute or so, until the water boils over.
Add mung bean noodles, cabbage, green mustard. Continue cooking for one more minute.
Season with sugar, salt and soy sauce.
Add one or two more cup of hot water and tomatoes.
Cover the wok for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Serve immediately with steamed rice and some dipping sauce.