Buddhist Vegetarian Recipes

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Bun Bi Chay Recipe Recipe

Bun Bi Chay Recipe

05.24.12 by Jackie

Bun is a popular Vietnamese meal, which consists of rice vermicelli noodles, shredded lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, a protein element and dipping sauce. Bun bì chay is a vegetarian version that replicates shredded pork by using fried sliced jicama and fried tofu.

This is an ideal and very refreshing hot weather dish. The preparation is labor intensive, especially with chopping and frying, so I usually make a large quantity. It's delicious and keeps for a few days, so it's definitely worth the effort.


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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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Bi Chay (Vietnamese Vegetarian Recipe) Recipe

If you're looking for tasty Vietnamese vegetarian food, this bì chay recipe is just for you. This version respects the true Buddhist vegetarian diet, which states no onion, garlic or shallots allowed. The flavors of the dish are mainly from the toasted jasmine rice ground into a fine powder, blended with very thinly shredded fried potatoes, taro, tofu and jicama. Jicama is a sweet turnip that is used quite often in Vietnamese cuisine (as well as in Mexican food) and it mimics the texture of pork skin.

I served this tofu dish with rice noodles, aromatic Vietnamese green herbs and a soy sauce-based dipping sauce made with coconut. The result is a simple, refreshing dish that is packed with flavor. It just proves that with the right ingredients and cooking techniques, even food made for a restricted Buddhist vegetarian diet can be satisfying. Don't believe me? You'll have to try it to for yourself!


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