Buddhist Diet Recipes

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Soy Gluten Stir Fry Recipe Recipe

Soy Gluten Stir Fry Recipe

03.25.11 by Jackie

Soy gluten is one of those rare ingredients that can make me forget about meat. Unlike tofu, soy gluten has a chewy texture that gives more body and consistency to the dish.

Even though I'm a meat eater, I've been craving lots of vegetarian food and fish lately. So today, I stir-fried soy gluten and vegetables with the usual flavorings, such as black bean sauce, chili garlic sauce and soy sauce and then added Thai basil to finish the dish. I’m eating healthier without sacrificing taste, which is a delicious compromise!


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Braised Straw Mushrooms (Nam Kho Ca Recipe) Recipe

Nấm kho cà tô mát, which translates to "braised mushrooms in tomatoes" in Vietnamese, was my late grandma's (Bà Ngoại) specialty. Bà Ngoại was an excellent cook; she mastered vegetarian cooking in particular. This dish resembles sweet tomato beef because of the texture of dried straw mushrooms in the sweet and sour sauce. The preparation is fairly simple. A lot of garlic and a fair amount of different soy sauces (zesty, sweet and salty) really make the dish flavorful. The sweetness and tanginess from the fresh tomatoes gives the final touch for this quick side dish.

As a child, I didn't come often to Vietnam to visit my grandma but I always remember all the wonderful stories she told me. Bà Ngoại used to be the director of a Saigonese school and was proud to educate and empower Vietnamese women through various disciplines, including culinary arts among others. I remember she was a very strong-minded lady who really represented the essence of Vietnam. I'm not saying this just because she was my grandmother, but she was such a great role model, always dedicated to excellence and so devoted to her children, especially during times of crisis. She was an admirable woman.


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Vietnamese Vegetables with Ginger (Rau Muong Xao Gung) Recipe

Vietnamese cuisine boasts many dishes that highlight fresh ingredients in a healthy manner. Rau muống xào với gừng (Vietnamese pea tendrils sautéed in ginger) is an excellent example of this.  The dish is incredibly simple; the pea tendrils are blanched and then flavored with ginger and a little turmeric for color. I made it recently for my uncle who was visiting us and is a practicing Buddhist, which is why the recipe does not call for onions, shallots or garlic. Don’t worry though; the dish is only light on calories, not flavor.

As a child, our typical Vietnamese family meals were composed of individual bowls of rice, meat, seafood or tofu, a bowl of canh (a clear broth soup), a vegetable side dish and a dipping sauce. I always looked forward to a bowl of rau muống, served with a soy sauce and ginger dipping sauce called mắm gừng. If you have trouble getting your family to eat their greens, give this dish a try. It worked on me!


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Vegetarian Fish in Nori Rolls (Ca Keo Chay) Recipe

This dish is a vegetarian version of the Vietnamese dish called "cá kho tộ", which is braised fish simmered in caramel sauce. Instead of using cá kèo (a dark-scaled small fish that is very popular in Saigonese cuisine), I stuffed tofu in nori sheets to resemble the look and taste of seafood. Once wrapped, the nori rolls are simmered in a sauce made of coconut and soy sauce. Even though the real fish dish is cooked in a claypot to perfectly sear the fish, for the vegetarian equivalent I don’t think it’s necessary. I used a  regular  deep non-stick pan.

I served the vegetarian fish with thin vermicelli noodles and a banana blossom salad. The more authentic version calls for rau răm, which is a Vietnamese aromatic herb that is an acquired taste for those who are not familiar with it. My husband Lulu is not a big fan, so I garnished it with African basil from the garden. 

If you're planning to cook for vegetarians, this meal is perfect; the texture of firm tofu resembles fish without its strong aroma. If you like this recipe, you'll be happy to know that there are a lot of similar vegetarian equivalents to traditional Vietnamese dishes that have been developed for the Buddhist vegetarian diet. I'll post more recipes resembling seafood such as shrimp and other fish dishes soon.

Sorry for not posting yesterday'; our internet was down .


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