Vegetarian Buddha’s Delight is a traditional food served for Chinese New Year. Packed with a variety of “good luck” ingredients, it’s sure to usher in a bright start to the New Year.
One of the Chinese New Year dishes I fondly remember that my namesake, Auntie Jeanette, made when I was growing up was Buddha’s Delight or Lo Han Jai. It’s a vegetarian dish and easily made vegan, chockfull of a variety of interesting Asian ingredients.
There are dried ingredients such as shitake mushrooms, wood ear fungus, day lily buds, dried bean curd, and mung bean noodles in this dish as well as fresh vegetables. Bamboo shoots and a special seaweed called black moss are also traditionally in this dish.
The seasonings can be simply soy sauce and a little sugar, or oyster sauce (vegetarian oyster sauce can be used to keep this vegan). Sometimes, fermented bean curd is also added.
It’s hard to find some of these ingredients unless you have access to Chinatown or a well stocked Asian grocery store, so this recipe is very flexible.
Each of the ingredients in Buddha’s Delight is symbolic of something lucky for the Chinese New Year.
Shitake Mushrooms – Longevity
Bamboo – Wealth
Dried Bean Curd – Fulfillment of Wealth and Happiness
Day Lily Buds – Wealth
Mung Bean Noodles (cellophane noodles ) – Silver Chain
Wood Ear Fungus – Longevity
Green Vegetables – Close Family Ties
I cheated a bit with my Buddha’s Delight by using a few cans of prepared vegetables. One was a vegetarian sausage (seitan) with mushrooms and bamboo shoots, and the other was sauteed dried tofu and bamboo shoots.
A drizzle of sesame oil at the end adds a nice touch.
For more Chinese New Year inspiration, check out my post 16+ Lunar and Chinese New Year Recipes.
- 4 dried shitake mushrooms
- ¼ cup dried daylily buds
- 2 tablespoons dried wood ear fungus
- 1 1.7 ounce pack mung bean noodles
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 slice ginger, the size of a quarter, minced
- 1 square fermented bean curd, mashed up, optional
- 2 cups bok choy or napa cabbage, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 9-ounce can Vegetarian Sausage with Mushrooms, and Bamboo Shoots (leave out for gluten-free version)
- 1 10-ounce can Sauteed Dried Tofu and Bamboo Shoots
- a drizzle of sesame oil
- Soak mushrooms, tiger lily buds and wood ear fungus in water overnight. To keep ingredients immersed, place a wet folded paper towel on top; strain and reserve soaking liquid.
- Cut mushrooms in halves or quarters depending on the size. Cut off tough ends of tiger lily buds. Cut black wood ear fungus into bite size pieces.
- Soak mung bean noodles for ½ hour or longer; strain. Use scissors to cut into 2" lengths.
- Heat oil in a wok or large pan. Saute ginger until fragrant, just a few seconds. Add mushrooms, day lily buds,wood ear fungus, Vegetarian Sausage with Mushrooms and Bamboo Shoots, and Sauteed Dried Tofu and Bamboo Shoots. Saute 3-4 minutes. Add ¾ cup reserved soaking liquid and fermented bean curd. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes. Add mung bean noodles and bok choy. Cover and cook another 2 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil.