A delicate recipe filled with crisp vegetables and tangy sauce, Buddha’s Delight (Luóhàn zhāi, 罗汉斋) is a scrumptious and long-standing tradition of Chinese and Buddhist cuisine. For those looking for a simple “Zen” meal to revitalize, without being bogged down with heavy, meaty ingredients, Buddha’s Delight offers a special treat.
Traditionally enjoyed by vegetarian Buddhist monks, Buddha’s Delight combines a mix-match of vegetarian and vegan ingredients. Common ingredients include baby corn, snow peas, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, garlic, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, fried tofu, and noodles. If you are making the dish at home, one of the great aspects of the recipe is the ability to customize the dish to one’s personal taste: Buddha’s Delight tastes delicious with nearly any combination of fresh veggies.
Generally, Buddha’s Delight is made with at least 10 ingredients, but the king of Buddha’s Delight can be made with 18 ingredients. If Buddha’s Delight is made with 18 ingredients, the dish is often called Luóhàn quánzhāi, (罗汉全斋).
A couple of trademark and more unusual ingredients include dried lily buds (干黄花菜) and ginkgo nuts (白果). Preparing the ingredients is simply a matter of stir-frying and steaming. For a quick and convenient experience, pop the dish into the microwave.
Dried lily buds
Although you may not be on a monk’s spiritual quest for self-purification, the protein and vitamin rich recipe will at least be equivalent to knocking off a few laps at the gym.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 5 slices ginger
- 15g (‘nam yee’/red fermented bean curd (豆腐乳)
- 100g napa cabbage (大白菜) cut to small pieces
- small piece of fat choy (fa cai/发菜)
- 35g bean curd sticks (腐竹) soaked in water until softened, drained
- 50g bamboo shoots (笋) sliced thinly
- 100g dried/braised gluten (面筋) (note: you can also use mock vegetarian abalone which is made of fried gluten)
- 100g baby corn sliced diagonally (玉米笋)
- 1 carrot peeled and slice thinly (胡萝卜)
- 50g snow peas (荷兰豆) gently break off the ends and pull off the “strings”
- 3 bean curd puffs/‘tau pok’ sliced to strips (豆腐卜)
- 15 vacuum-packed or canned ginkgo nuts (白果)
- 15 vacuum-packed or canned lotus seeds (蓮子)
- 30g cellophane noodles/‘tang hoon’ (粉絲) soaked in water until softened, drained
Soak the following in individual bowls of hot water for 30 mins, drain & cut to smaller pieces:
- 10 dried Chinese mushrooms (干香菇) after soaking, discard stems before cutting
- 10g dried black (wood ear) fungus (木耳) after soaking, trim and discard the hard portion on the centre underside of the fungus
- 15g dried lily buds (金针 or 干黄花菜) after soaking, tie each lily bud with a knot
Sauce (mix well in a small bowl)
- 2 tbsp vegetarian oyster flavored sauce
- a small pinch of sugar
- a dash of white pepper powder
- 2 tsp corn flour
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
Directions (Stove-Top Recipe)
- Heat oil in wok. Stir fry chopped garlic & ginger until fragrant. Then add nam yee and mash it to smaller pieces with the spatula.
- Add cabbage and stir fry till softened (a few minutes).
- Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the tang hoon) together with Sauce (A) and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil then cover with lid and let the vegetables simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Anytime the water runs dry, you can top up with hot water or stock.
- When the vegetables are cooked and the water is reduced, add tang hoon and stir briefly to allow the tang hoon to absorb the sauce.
Directions (Microwave Recipe)
- Add cabbage in the casserole with 50ml water. Cover with lid and microwave on high (900 watts) for 5 minutes, or until the cabbage withers. Set aside the cooked cabbage in a plate.
- When the casserole has cooled, discard water and wipe it dry with paper towel. Add cooking oil, garlic, ginger and nam yee. Cover with lid and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Use a spatula to mash the nam yee.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and 50ml water. Cover with lid and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Stir to coat the ingredients evenly with the sauce.
- Prepare the sauce by mixing the ingredients listed in (A) with 2 tbsp water in a small bowl. Drizzle the sauce over the ingredients and stir thoroughly to coat the ingredients evenly with the sauce. Cover with lid and microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until all the ingredients are cooked.
For more information about the recipe for this dish, go to Noobcook.com.
Photos courtesy of weibo.com and flicker.com.