Chinese Vegetarian Cuisine

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Confucian, Buddist and Taoist idealogy has influenced, to some degree, modern Chinese cuisine. The Chinese culture is millennia old, so it goes without saying that they have had ample time throughout the centuries perfecting their recipes and making them absolutely spot on delicious. 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. There are other benefits of cooking by these methods, the prime reason being that it takes a longer period of time to allow food to digest. This in turn heats the body allowing for easier digestion. Being a primarily agrarian culture adds the value of vegetable dishes. Noodles, rice and tofu form the mainstays of Chinese cuisine and are present in many vegetarian recipes. As Chinese cooking is a quick form of cooking it lends itself to using a great number of vegetables and they turn out to be colorful, crisp and light. More often than not, Eastern dishes do not have too many starch related foods added besides those already mentioned. The Chinese way of stir-frying vegetables ensures that the vegetables retain all their natural flavors and juices and color and are not too oily when served. If you cook yourself, try to avoid any frozen vegetables as they often come out mushy. Simplicity is commonly found in almost all Chinese vegetarian dishes. Virtually all Chinese vegetable dishes comprise varying colors, flavors and textures that can add delight to any meal.

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. One thing that needs be mentioned is the MSG is often added and can have an effect on your body if you have allergies to that ingredient. It is used to enhance flavors, but some eateries do not have this added for those reasons.

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 (from soy) resembles tofu, roasted seaweed (Yakinori), and wheat gluten are some of the more common elements in this food. Sometimes mushrooms, water chestnuts and walnuts are added to give the meals volume. This fills up those emply places nicely. Noodles are used abundantly in Chinese vegetarian healthy recipes and come in all shapes and sizes, from round and flat to fat and thin. There is a long shelf life for these, so can be seen in many dishes. Different types, like chow mien is used for different dishes.

Even the famous chop suey can be made the vegetarian way. It can be cooked quickly with a lot of vegetables like bean sprouts, and cabbage or celery and thickened with cornstarch and sauce and served with rice or noodles.

Rice culture

Fried rice or Chinese fried rice is ubiquitous. In and of itself, fried rice can make a meal. 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. Another legendary Chinese herb, ginseng, is used with red dates in soup to improve circulation.

Chinese vegetarian food can be very simple to cook, and be a healthy and delicious choice, particularly for cold conditions. Even in the summer moths, though, the Chinese cuisine can be a great choice to substitute on any menu to liven it up.

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Author: Tom Johnson
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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