Lo Han Jai, also known as "Buddhist Vegetarian Stew," is traditionally served on the first day of the lunar Chinese New Year, to cleanse the body. Since ingredients for Lo Han Jai are not easily available in most food markets, this is a simplified version. Although the list of ingredients appear lengthy, once everything is gathered, the cooking is easy. This recipe comes from the Wok Wiz (San Francisco, CA) website and is copyrighted by Wok Wiz -- the URL is http://www.wokwiz.com/recipes/lo_han_jai.html
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 8 Chinese black mushrooms
- 1⁄2 cup dried black fungus (cloud ears)
- 1⁄2 cup bamboo shoot, sliced
- 8 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 carrot, peeled & julienned lengthwise
- 2 cups napa cabbage, torn into small pieces
- 1 cup vegetable broth or 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 ounces rice noodles (bean thread, Chinese vermicelli)
- 1 cup firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 snow peas
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low-sodium preferred)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes; squeeze out the excess water; then remove stems and leave the mushrooms whole. Reserve the soaking water.
- Soak the cloud ears in warm water until soft (about 10 minutes), then cut into smaller pieces.
- Boil the bean thread in water to cover for 5 minutes, then drain.
- To prep the snow peas, remove the strings, then cut into thin slivers.
- Mix the water and cornstarch to form a slurry for thickening. The cornstarch will continue to settle out, so you'll need to stir this again just before you use it.
- Heat wok until smoky. Add vegetable oil. Stir-fry mushrooms, cloud ears, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrot, cabbage and cook for 3-4 minutes over high heat.
- Add bean thread and broth. Cover and cook for 5 minutes over low heat.
- Add tofu, bean sprouts, snow peas and soy sauce. Cover and simmer for two minutes.
- Stir the water and cornstarch mixture, then add to the pan to form a light gravy, adjusting if necessary.
- Drizzle with sesame oil.
- Note: Traditional Lo Han Jai ingredients include: ginkgo nuts, lotus root, dried oysters, lily stems, seaweed hair, fried tofu, and dried bean curd sticks. If you live near an oriental market, you may be able to get these; if not, this simplified recipe will give you a sense of the dish.
When I bit into this hearty vegetarian stew I knew what the Buddhist monks must have felt. Pure bliss and good for your body sensation. Because most of the taste is coming from the vegetables and mushrooms without the addition of ginger and garlic, the taste of this stew is light. This vegetarian stew should appeal to those who shun spiciness or heat. I was very curious to see how this stew worked without much seasoning and I'm really glad I tried it. Thank you for posting this recipe! Made for Asian forum's unrated Asian recipe tag.
I loved this. It is amazing that so little seasoning is required, and I loved the fact that there was no need for the ususal suspects: garlic, onion, and ginger. This is all about the vegetables, and the few seasonings (soy sauce & sesame oil) come across stronger. Those on a diet can think of this as a night off restrictions, since there is so little real fat--there is oil, which is fat, but per serving, that comes up low. Put whatever you have in your frig--I added broccoli and cauliflower. Tiger lillies do add something, if you have them. A great cleanser.