Buddhist Vegetarian Stew (Lo Han Jai)

Buddhist Vegetarian Stew (Lo Han Jai)

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to enjoy this one.  It’s such a cinch to make.  It’s beautiful to look at and tastes even better.

I made a couple of changes from the recipe, based on the ingredients I could find and the ingredients I had in the fridge or pantry.  I didn’t have the cellophane or mung bean noodles, so I cooked up some black rice vermicelli separately (plain rice vermicelli would be fine too) and just laddled the stew over the cooked noodles.  I couldn’t find fresh mung bean sprouts, so I left them out.  I also couldn’t find snow peas, so I added frozen sugar snap peas and they were a bit mushy for my tastes, fresh would have been much, much better.  I did make sure to add the cloud ear/black fungus….it’s my new favorite ingredient…I just love it’s texture. Squeaky. You can find the dried shiitake mushrooms and black fungus at Asian markets.

Buddhist Vegetarian Stew (Lo Han Jai)

We give thanks to the many beings who helped bring us this food. -Zen Mealtime Prayer

1 ounce (about 8) dried shiitake mushroom
1/2 cup cloud ear/black fungus, dried mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots, sliced and drained
1 8 oz. can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 carrot, julienned
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
3 cups vegetable broth
2 ounces bean threads, cellophane or mung vermicelli
1 cup firm tofu, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
16 snow peas, strings removed, julienned
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed well with 4-5 Tbls cold water
1 teaspoon Oriental sesame oil
2 to 3 cups hot water

Soak shiitake in hot water for 30 minutes. Soak cloud ear (or wood ear) fungus in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve water from both types of mushrooms for later use. Remove and discard shiitake stems, and leave most whole (cut large ones into halves or quarters. Cut cloud ear fungus into small pieces.

In a wok, stir-fry mushrooms, cloud ear fungus, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, carrot, and cabbage, in oil on high for 4 minutes. Add broth, mushroom water, and bean threads. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tofu, snow peas, bean sprouts, and soy sauce.  Cover and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture and continue to cook until sauce thickens.  Drizzle with sesame oil and serve.


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