Chinese New Year Recipe: Buddha's Delight

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Chinese New Year recipe for Buddha's Delight. When the Chinese New Year comes, if you want a long life, you have to try vegetarian dishes like Buddha’s Delight.
When the Chinese New Year comes, if you want a long life, you have to try vegetarian dishes like Buddha’s Delight. Why? Because for at least half of the Chinese New Year's 15 days, many Chinese avoid eating meat so they can gain good will from the gods and get a long life.

Fortunately, Chinese cuisine is full of both hearty, filling vegetables and some great meat replacements (yes, even tofu can be good if you cook it right.) Many of these ingredients find their way into Buddha’s Delight, which means it’s delicious and satisfying and a good way to add a few years to your life.

>>More Chinese New Year Recipes


Buddha’s Delight

This version of Buddha’s Delight is a bit scaled down from what might be found in a traditional Chinese kitchen. Part of the problem is that several of the ingredients are hard to find, even in China. The good news is that there are substitutions for them and they make the dish taste great.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound tofu
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 pound seitan (wheat-based meat replacement, optional)
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/8-inch coins
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • 8-ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch

Directions:

Prepare the tofu:
  1. Cut the tofu into 1/4-inch long strips and then cut each strip into 1/2 by 1/2-inch squares; wrap the square in a towel and set a skillet on top of the towel; put two cans into the skillet to weigh it down.
  2. Come back in an hour and you will find that the tofu has given up a lot of its water. This is called pressing tofu and makes it taste much better.

If you can find the seitan:
  1. Put the broth in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer; add the seitan and let it simmer for 3 to 4 minutes; set aside.

Make the dish:
  1. In a skillet, add two tablespoons of oil and let it get hot over medium-high heat; stir fry the tofu until it is golden brown; set aside.
  2. Add the rest of the oil, onions, carrots, garlic, and ginger; sauté the vegetables until they are soft, about 10 minutes; add the Napa cabbage, mushrooms, tofu, and seitan; cook them for about 2 minutes and then add the broth (even if you cooked the seitan in it); cover and let the vegetables cook about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the cover and let the vegetables cook another 5 minutes; mix the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and pour that into the sauce; stir until it thickens and serve.