VEGETARIAN CHINESE FOOD – Chinese food is full of colors, flavors, and textures that appeal to a wide variety of eaters. While ordering vegetarian Chinese food may seem easy at first glance, it can be tricker than one might anticipate. It’s not just about avoiding General Tsoa’s Chicken and other obviously meat-centric dishes; many Chinese sauces, broths, and condiments contain animal products. To complicate matters further, even some vegetable or mock-meat dishes may be cooked in lard, an animal-based fat.
But once you know what to watch for and what questions to ask, it’s easy to confidently order and enjoy vegetarian Chinese food. After all, Taoism and Buddhism are widely followed in China, both of which adhere to vegetarian lifestyles.
Before getting into a list of usually vegetarian Chinese food to order, I want to preface this by stating if you’re not sure about something, ask. Ask what stock and broths are made from, ask if fish sauce is an ingredient, and ask what kind of oil is used for cooking. If you’re a strict vegetarian, you may also want to ask if vegetable-based dishes like egg rolls are fried in the same oil as meat-based dishes. Once you’ve nailed these basic questions, you can order your vegetarian Chinese food worry-free.
The magic of sesame oil shines atop a heaping bowl of noodles in this popular dish. It’s often also prepared with garlic, sesame paste, vinegar, and sometimes peanut butter and/or chili sauce. It may also be available with tofu and/or veggies.
Sichuan Style Cucumber Salad
Cucumbers are tossed in a mixture of oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and spices, often including garlic and Sichuan or red pepper flakes.
Vegetable Fried Rice
A vegetarian Chinese favorite. Fried rice is typically made by stir-frying cooked rice in a wok with eggs and/or vegetables. Ask about the sauces added to flavor the dish. Different places will use different ingredients, so make sure there are no animal-containing sauces like eel or fish sauce added. If you’re vegan, ask for it to be made without eggs.
A safe side dish if you’re feeling desperate. Pair steamed veggies with a side of white rice and your vegetarian sauce of choice. It’s not the ideal meal, but it’ll do in a pinch.