Here on the blog we try to cater to a broad range of tastes and diets, but of course, there’s no denying that our family is solidly omnivorous with a carnivorous bent. Over the years, however, like many people, we’ve started to eat much more veggies and are actively trying to eat less meat. That means more vegan recipes! Looking 10 or 15 years back, we actually can’t believe how much meat we would eat in a given day or even for a given meal! These days we try to be much more moderate in our intake and eat vegan more of the time.
Luckily, the great thing about Chinese cuisine is that in many cases (e.g., your average stir fry, dumpling, noodle recipe, etc.) it’s pretty easy to swap out major ingredients like meat for veggies. We have tons of recipes that can be tweaked and adjusted to be made into vegan recipes, and plenty of vegan takes on Chinese American and fusion dishes. But today, we wanted to call out some of our favorite, traditional Chinese dishes that also happen to be vegan! These Chinese vegan dishes don’t need any tweaking get in your daily dose of veggies and plant-based proteins. Plus, there are great options here to help you continue to celebrate the start of Chinese New Year!
We hope the vegans and vegetarians out there find a recipe here to change up your routine, or that anyone can find a recipe to give a go for Meatless Mondays.
Sticky Rice Mushroom Shumai with Homemade Wrappers
These shumai make for an impressive and satisfying appetizer or brunch item. The best part of making them at home is you can augment with more tasty vegetables like Shiitake mushrooms and green peas than what you might find in a pre-made frozen alternative.
It took us a while to figure out a satisfying and veggie-packed vegetable dumpling filling that would hold up as well as meat, and we finally did. These are filled with a rainbow of veggies, including hearty mushrooms, to help you create a satisfying vegan recipe that’s lighter than your average pork dumpling.
Chinese Pickled Cucumbers
There’s something about the saltiness of pickles that really satisfies when you’re eating a plant-based diet. The best part about these pickles is that they’re easy to make and don’t require any complex jarring processes.
Hong Shao Kao Fu – Braised Wheat Gluten with Mushrooms
Okay, we know that “gluten” is a bit of trigger word for people today, but kao fu is a form of wheat gluten that tastes like tofu. It’s the primary ingredient in this traditional cold appetizer. What many people don’t know about Chinese cooking and eating is that an abundance of cold appetizers are often served before the main dishes! They often entail a selection of cold meats, but this is a rare vegan recipe!
15-Minute Chinese Hot Oil Noodles (You Po Mian)
We’re a big fan of ridiculously simple noodle dishes that can be made in 10-15 minutes, and the simplicity of this dish makes it one of the dishes we’ve actually put in our regular family rotation. When you need a quick and satisfying lunch, this is the way to go.
Soy Scallion Shanghai Noodles (Cong You Ban Mian)
Sometimes simplicity is the way to go, and these Soy Scallion Shanghai Noodles masterfully magnify the delicious rich sweet onion flavor that scallions can yield. Ignore the novice photography, as this is an oldie but a goodie vegan recipe here on the blog.
10-Minute Sesame Noodles (Ma Jiang Mian)
Long Life Noodles – Yi Mein (伊面)
If you’re looking for a different noodle dish, these Long Life Noodles have a distinctive texture, and are perfect for continuing to celebrate the start of the New Year!
Stir-fried Eggplant, Potatoes and Peppers (Di San Xian)
This stir fry of “three earthly bounties” is a well-known dish from Shandong, that lets the flavors of these three simple vegetables really shine through. Serve this to a carnivore and they may just question their ways…
Braised Spring Bamboo Shoots (油焖笋)
There’s nothing better than cooking with the seasons. As winter’s ice starts to thaw and we head into the spring months, look out for tender spring bamboo shoots at your local Asian grocery to make this delicious seasonal dish.
Sichuan Napa Cabbage Stir-Fry (Suan La Bai Cai)
We’re always looking for dishes that inject more flavor into our vegetables than just your standard Chinese preparation of green vegetables (oil, salt, and garlic). This Sichuan Napa Cabbage is flavored with dried chilies and Chinese black vinegar for a delicious dish that can really stand on its own.
Eggplant String Bean Stir-fry
This eggplant and string bean stir fry is a classic dish that we order at our favorite Hunan restaurant. This recipe is a perfect example of how simple ingredients can really shine through in Chinese cooking–the magic of a hot wok does a lot of the work for you!
Tiger Skin Peppers
If you’re looking for heat, these Tiger Skin Peppers are for you. Flavored with Chinese black vinegar and seared in a crazy hot wok until they get blistered and delicious, these peppers are bursting with flavor. White rice obligatory to cool things down!
Sichuan Stir-Fried Potatoes
We were unfamiliar with the concept of stir-fried potatoes until we started to eat more Sichuan food. Potatoes sliced into thin matchsticks (use a mandolin to help you!) make for one of our all-time favorite traditional Chinese vegan dishes. The potatoes readily soak up all the flavors of spicy numbing Sichuan peppercorns, dried chilies, and garlic. This is one vegan recipe that we’re always excited to share with friends and family. To get an extra nutrient boost, leave the potato skins on!
Steamed Eggplant, Hunan Style
In the world of Chinese cooking, eggplant can sometimes seem like a one-trick pony. For anyone who loves eggplant with garlic sauce, there’s much more that can be done! Namely, this Hunan Style Steamed Eggplant. Made with plenty of aromatics and fresh scallion over the top, it’s kind of like a warm salad gone totally rogue.
Chinese Tofu Salad
When you’re looking for a vegan recipe that is light, quick and easy, this cold Chinese Tofu Salad is your man. The five-spiced tofu is already cooked and ready to use, which means that this salad comes together pretty quickly. Make a big batch for meal-planning purposes!
Quick and Easy Braised Tofu (Hong Shao Dofu)
This is one of our favorite tofu dishes. It’s a quick and easy home-style dish that comes together in 15 minutes. Plus, like most good things in Chinese cuisine, it was made for heaping over a big plate of white rice.
Buddha’s Delight (Vegetarian Lo Han Jai)
Buddha’s Delight is one of those dishes you’ve probably never ordered on a Chinese takeout menu because it’s entirely unclear what you can expect to get. This is the traditional version that our family eats every year for Chinese New Year. There’s plenty of meaty mushrooms, and protein from “bean threads,” a kind of pressed tofu that adds a heartier element to this dish.
Stir-fried Chinese Mustard Greens (Xuelihong)
The ultimate easy Chinese vegan recipes are the ones for stir-fried leafy greens! Chinese Mustard Greens can be tricky to find, but we’re seeing them turn up more and more in the summer months. We like to prepare these with a little bit of dried chili and garlic, but you can make any number of Chinese leafy greens using a similar approach. Check out our recipes for Stir-fried Pink Amaranth Greens, Garlic Baby Bok Choy, Stir Fried Sweet Potato Leaves, and Stir Fried Snow Pea Leaves with Garlic, and head to your Asian grocery store to see what’s fresh!