Chinese Vegan 101
Welcome to the Chinese Vegan 101 — your comprehensive lowdown on all the ingredients in the traditional Chinese pantry that support a healthy, plant-based diet.
When you think of Chinese food, what comes to mind? One of the common opinions I hear is from many people is that it isn't particularly healthy or vegetarian friendly. But what you see on the takeaway or restaurant menu, or even supermarket meal kits and sauces, is very far from home cooking in the Chinese household. Depending on regional variations, access to ingredients and individual traditions, home cooking tends to be simple, always building on a base of rice or noodles, with a variety of sharing dishes of fresh seasonal vegetables enhanced with some protein and often a clear broth. Flavours are enhanced by umami-rich seasoning and sauces, while Chinese yin yang philosophy dictates an overall balance of flavours, colours and textures.
In this guide I've selected some of the best ingredients you can incorporate into your diet. They have a myriad of health benefits and fantastic flavour, endowed with an especially rich savoury quality that can replace that craving for meat. I’ve carefully chosen ingredients that are easy to find in the West, affordable and keep well in the store cupboard or fridge. I don’t particularly advocate paying through the nose for or specially importing obscure ingredients; I would always recommend working with what is locally available.
These ingredients don't necessarily need to be cooked in specifically Chinese dishes at all. I will be regularly sharing Western or fusion style dishes, which is exactly how I choose to cook these ingredients.