Happy first day of spring! On the first day of Chinese New Year (a variable date in January or Febuary) it is traditional to cook this vegetarian dish. Chinese New Year is meant to mark the end of winter, so as it's officially the first day of spring here in southern hemisphere Australia, this recipe is quite appropriate.
Buddah's Delight goes by quite a few names and a vast array of ingredients. I'll get to that bit. You may have heard of it as Monks Vegetables. Or maybe as Lo Han Zai or Zai Choi.
As I mentioned, the ingredients are widely varied. I find this dish is as much about sampling different textures together as it is about taste. All the textures are bound together by the flavoured sauce. The sauce varies a lot too. Many recipes use a fermented tofu product as the base of the sauce which some people find nauseating, myself included. It's also a bit tricky to find. Many recipes use a heavily soy sauce based sauce, which I found to be just plain salty and one dimensional. This version uses a modified soy sauce base with heaps more flavour added in and easy on the salt. You should be able to get all the ingredients at your supermarket too.
And the last note is that this dish tastes best if at least half of the ingredients are fresh. In other words, minimise the tofu, starch, lotus, noodles, lilybuds and waterchestnut and maximise the vegetables.
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 cup dry or medium dry sherry
1 1/2 - 2 cups stock (water from rehydrating the shitake mushrooms is good here)
shitake mushroom (fresh or rehydrated)
1 carrot, sliced
lotus root slices
chinese cabbage, shredded fine (2 handfuls or more)
wood ear / black fungus mushroom (fresh or rehydrated, remove the hard bits, half a handful is enough, this expands a lot)
dried sticks of bean curd
glass noodles (half a handful is enough)
gingko nuts or peanuts or cashews
small cubes of fried tofu puffs
Get a big pot out for this. No, bigger.
Make the sauce base:
Fry the garlic on medium heat until golden in sesame oil.
Remove from heat and add sugar, salt, hoisin, soy sauce and sherry.
Put back on the heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves.
Time to add your ingredients:
Choose your ingredient selection according to your tastes and what you have available to you. It's more about varied textures than a blend of flavoured ingredients.
Use one handful of each ingredient unless noted.
Add ingredients one at a time, starting with the one that will take the longest to cook.
Braise each for a few minutes before adding the next until all of them are done.
Add stock as required.
Feeds 4-8 depending on the number of ingredients used. It's a bit of a banquet. Serve on a little rice.
For more excursions in eating, hop over to where this recipe came from and have a wander around.
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