Chinese Vegetarian Cuisine

Foods & DrinksFood

  • Author Tom Johnson
  • Published April 8, 2010
  • Word count 579

Confucian, Buddist and Taoist idealogy has influenced, to some degree, modern Chinese cuisine. Being an ancient culture, China has had plenty of time to perfect the cooking arts. Climate has played a part in many cooking methods. Conservation of cooking fuel has been a prime reason for many of the methods of preparation. The side benefit of cooking this way takes place in our body by means of it taking more time to digest and the body will get more heated than many other food preparation methods. This method includes their vegetarian recipes. Noodles, rice and tofu form the mainstays of Chinese cuisine and are present in many vegetarian recipes. Chinese cooking is often fast, this is the reason that many vegetable related dishes still have crunch to the food. One health benefit is that few if any starchy vegetables are used like in western cooking. The emphasis is on fresh vegetables and small portion sizes. When cooking the Chinese way, almost all flavors and nutrients are kept intact. If you cook yourself, try to avoid any frozen vegetables as they often come out mushy. The beauty of Chinese vegan recipes is their simplicity. Chinese vegetarian dishes display a harmonious balance of colors, flavors and textures.

The ingredients

Core ingredients of Chinese meals are oils, wheat gluten, soy varieties, bamboo shoots and raw vegetables. Seaweed, edible fungi, and mushrooms are used, as are dried and fresh fruits. Mono sodium glutamate is used in Chinese cooking liberally and this has to be borne in mind and can be left out or used little where possible due to allergic reaction.

There is a popular form of dining that is called Dim Sum that may offer some variety to vegetarians. Another couple of methods are stir fry and steaming.

Common Ingredients in Cooking

Bean curd sheets made from soy resembling tofu, yakinori or roasted seaweed, and wheat gluten (which is high in protein and is a good meat substitute). Sometimes mushrooms, water chestnuts and walnuts are added to give the meals volume. This fills up those emply places nicely. Thick and thin noodles are added to dishes. Their textures and consistencies vary. They characterize a long and healthy life and hence are used uncut. Different types, like chow mien is used for different dishes.

Even the famous chop suey can be made the vegetarian way. By using bean sprouts, cabbage or celery it is easy to simply thicken the mixture with some corn starch and sauce, then serve over rice or noodles for a hearty meal.

Rice culture

Fried rice or Chinese fried rice is ubiquitous. The most popular complete rice dish in itself is fried rice. The trick to getting it right is to use previously cooked rice to give it that tried and tested consistency.


Another are that is central to Chinese cuisine are soups. There is everything from tart and tangy to sweet and sour. In some areas, soups are used to treat certain ailments. Bananas and strawberries are thought to cool a person, while guaves and litchi are used to warm in soups that use fruit. A ginger soup is used for digestive problems but tastes great as a finisher to a meal. Sometimes an ingredient like gensing is added to improve circulation.

Chinese vegetarian food can be very simple to cook, and be a healthy and delicious choice, particularly for cold conditions. Of course summertime need not hamper a good Chinese menu from gracing your table.

If you would like to know more about adding vegetarian concepts to meals, please go to Vegan Heretic by clicking here.

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