We have many soup recipes on The Woks of Life that can be adapted for vegans and vegetarians. The only problem was, we never had a high quality Asian vegetable stock or Chinese vegetable stock recipe we could recommend.
Most vegetable stock recipes were either Western/European-style stocks, and many of the Asian vegetable stock recipes we’ve found on the Internet just didn’t hit the mark in terms of flavor.
Well folks, the wait is over, because I have the ultimate, rigorously tested Asian vegetable stock recipe for you right here! And bonus: it’s completely vegan and very easy to make.
How to Build Umami with Vegan Ingredients
The key to a good stock is creating umami. To achieve umami when making a meat stock, you need little more than water and bones (pork neck bones, a chicken carcass, beef soup bones or marrow bones, etc.).
This vegan vegetable stock has loads of umami, but of course, no meat or bones in sight. Here’s a breakdown of the key vegetarian ingredients that create umami in this recipe:
- Dried shiitake mushrooms: they are absolutely bursting with umami and they’re the heavy hitters in this stock when it comes to creating a “meaty” flavor.
- Roasted napa cabbage: a secret learned by my mom in a Buddhist restaurant in China, where she had the most delicious vegetarian noodle soup and had to ask the chefs how they created such a full-bodied vegetable stock. Their answer: roasting napa cabbage for more flavor before adding it to the stock.
- Dried kelp (kombu): Dried kelp, or kombu as it’s known in Japan (海带, hǎidài in Mandarin) is abundant in naturally occurring glutamate, an amino acid that’s the basis of umami.
- White fermented bean curd: This is an optional ingredient, but 100% worth adding if you can find it in your local Chinese grocery. Fermented tofu gives the stock a subtle richness and extra blast of savory flavor.
Follow these recipe instructions, and you’ll be rewarded with a rich, nourishing Asian vegetable stock that’s tasty enough to be sipped on its own or used as a base for countless soups and noodle soups.
What to Make with Vegetable Stock
Many of our soup and noodle soup recipes can be adapted to be made vegan or vegetarian with this Asian vegetable stock. Here are a few examples.
If there are necessary substitutions in addition to the stock, I’ve included them below:
- Chinese Winter Melon Soup (substitute soy puffs for meatballs; vegan)
- Tomato Egg Drop Soup (vegetarian)
- Egg Drop Soup (vegetarian)
- Hot & Sour Soup (omit pork; vegetarian)
- Shepherd’s Purse Tofu Soup (vegetarian)
- Yang Chun Noodle Soup (omit lard; vegan)
- 15 Minute Coconut Curry Noodle Soup (substitute tofu for chicken and vegan red curry paste; vegan)
- Kimchi Ramen (vegan)
- 10 Minute Tomato Egg Drop Noodle Soup (vegetarian)
- Curry Mee (substitute tofu or soy puffs for chicken and vegan red curry paste; vegan)
- Superfood Miso Soup (skip stock-making step; just heat stock and add miso, tofu, spinach and scallions; vegan)
This is truly a cornerstone recipe. Let’s talk about how to make it.
Ultimate Asian Vegetable Stock: Recipe Instructions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Take half of a large napa cabbage, and cut it in half again lengthwise. Place the cabbage on a sheet pan and drizzle lightly with oil.
Roast for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant but not browned.
Add the fermented bean curd and cook for another minute.
Then add the onion, carrots, scallions, daikon, kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, and water. When the napa cabbage is done roasting, add it to the pot as well.
Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and simmer with the lid on for 4 hours.
Strain the stock, and season with salt to taste.
Can You Freeze Vegetable Stock?
Yes! This stock can be stored in containers (leave enough room in the container for the liquid to expand as it freezes) and frozen for up to 6 months. If not freezing, use within 3-4 days.
Asian Vegetable Stock
- 1/2 of a napa cabbage (cut in half lengthwise)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (divided)
- 7 slices ginger (20g, or 0.7 oz.)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled and cut in half)
- 2 cubes white fermented bean curd (0.8 ounces, 23g, optional)
- 1 onion (peeled and quartered)
- 1 pound carrots (450g, peeled and cut into large chunks)
- 8 scallions (ends removed)
- 8 ounces daikon radish (225g, peeled and cut into chunks)
- 1 5x5 inch piece dried kelp (kombu) (13x13cm, rinsed)
- 16 dried shiitake mushrooms (rinsed)
- 16 cups water (1 gallon, or about 4L)
- salt (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Take your napa cabbage half, and cut it in half again lengthwise. Place the cabbage on a sheet pan and drizzle lightly with oil. Roast for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant but not browned. Add the fermented bean curd and cook for another minute. Then add the onion, carrots, scallions, daikon, kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, and water. When the napa cabbage is done roasting, add it to the pot as well.
- Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low, and simmer with the lid on for 4 hours. Strain the stock, and season with salt to taste.