When it comes to Chinese vegetarian dishes, Buddha’s delight is your pick. It’s the original, hearty, multi-ingredient wonder using mushrooms, soy products and wheat gluten - way before all of this stuff was popular - to compensate for the lack of meat. Vegetables can be added to add vibrancy and crunch.

It is a favorite on the first day of the Lunar New Year as many of the ingredients in the dish are chosen for its fortuitous meaning. There can be a ton more added to Buddha’s delight, but the dish is hearty enough with just a couple ingredients and some vegetables, so don’t let the list of ingredients scare you. Work with what you have and what you can find. The basic foundation of soy sauce, garlic and mirin, which are all readily available, is what makes up the main flavors of this dish, so if you have that you’re golden.

Buddha’s Delight

(Serves 6)

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 3 cubes red fermented bean curd
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and halved
  • ¼ cup dried wood ears, soaked in warm water for at least 4 hours
  • 1 can baby corn, drained
  • 2 cups Napa cabbage, shredded into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 fried tofu puffs, quickly blanched in boiling water
  • 4 sticks dried beancurd sticks, soaked in warm water for 4 hours and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 can braised wheat gluten
  • 4 teaspoons mirin, divided
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 small bundle of mung bean noodles, soaked for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 cup pea pods (optional)
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin on the bias (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine shitake mushroom soaking liquid with water to create 1 full cup of liquid. Whisk in cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of mirin. Set aside.
  2. Add soy sauce and the remaining 2 teaspoons of mirin to the shitake mushrooms.
  3. In a large pot over medium high heat, fry ginger in 2 tablespoons of oil for 30 seconds. Add in the garlic and red beancurd. Cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Add in shitake mushrooms, black fungus mushrooms and beancurd sticks. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring to coat ingredients with sauce.
  5. Add in the baby corn, braised wheat gluten and blanched tofu puffs. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  6. Add in the cornstarch liquid from step 1. Then add in the mung bean noodles and cabbage. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes or until ingredients soften to the desired consistency.
  7. Additional vegetables may be added during the last minutes of cooking.
  8. Adjust seasonings to taste.