Lo Han Chai (Buddha’s Delight)
Since it was Chinese New Year a couple of weeks ago and Lantern Festival this weekend lets celebrate that by posting Chinese dishes this week. First on the list is this wonderful vegetarian dish called Lo Han Chai which is commonly served during this period.
Lo Han Chai, Luohan cai,Luohan zhai, lo han jai or Buddha’s delight is a popular Chinese dish that consists of various vegetables and other vegetarian ingredients cooked in a soy sauce based liquid together with other seasonings, traditionally it was enjoyed by vegetarian Buddhist monks but now it is popular worldwide. The name luóhàn zhai is a combination of two words which means a vegetarian diet (zhai) for an enlightened ascetic individual or the Buddha himself (luohan).
This dish is also a part of a Chinese tradition as it is served during Chinese New Year which came from a Buddhist practice that a person should maintain a vegetarian diet in the first five days of the New Year as a self-purification. If this is what a vegetarian dish is all about then I can be a vegetarian as this taste really good, I love the combination of different vegetables and ingredients, it’s so tasty you won’t even realize it’s all vegetables. Commonly this dish consists of 8 ingredients to signify prosperity but restaurants can create more elaborate versions which had 18 and up to 35 ingredients. But for this recipe we will stick with 8.
1/2 Chinese cabbage, chopped
5 pcs dried shiitake mushroom, rehydrated and cut in half
1 1/2 cup straw mushrooms, cut in half
1 pack snow peas
1 carrot, sliced
10 pcs baby corn, diagonally cut in half
6 squares fried tofu
1 cup water chestnuts, cut in half
3 tbsp oyster sauce or vegetarian oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp tapioca starch
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cup water
- Blanch snow peas and run them on cold water then set it aside.
- Mix together water, oyster sauce, corn flour, sugar and sesame oil then set it aside.
- In a wok add oil then sauté half of the garlic.
- Add the white part of the Chinese cabbage then stir fry for a minute.
- Add the green part of the cabbage then stir fry for 3 minutes or until cooked. Remove the cabbages then set aside.
- Add oil in the same wok then sauté the remaining garlic.
- Add shiitake mushrooms and stir fry for a minute.
- Add carrots, baby corn, water chestnuts and stir fry for 2 minutes.
- Add tofu, straw mushrooms, cooked cabbage and sauce mix then continuously stir fry for 4 minutes, add water if necessary.
- Season with salt if needed, toss in the snow peas then serve.