Mmmm, Chinese food. The cuisine may be known for its many meat dishes, but when you follow a plant-based diet, eating Chinese food is still very possible and delicious. You can substitute tempeh, tofu or seitan for the meat in any recipe as a general rule of thumb. Then, there are the many spices, oils and sauces that make up Chinese dishes. Spike up your meals with these items.
Chinese have been utilizing ginger root for years for its spicy-sweet taste, scent, and medicinal properties. Use it for this Pan Fried Tofu tossed with Ginger Spinach and Mushrooms.
2. Sichuan Peppercorns
These peppercorns have a tangy, woody tasting spice since they are made of dried tree berries. Try roasting them over low heat before eating for maximum flavor. Use them in these stir-fried Chinese veggies.
3. Star Anise
This fruit looks like a star thanks to the five to ten pointed sections all over it. Each section is a pod that contains a dark colored, bitter, licorice-flavored seed, called star anise. You can use it for soups and stews, and even for sweeter dishes like this Classic Vegan Gingerbread Bundt Cake.
Garlic makes Chinese rice dishes and stir fries burst in flavor. Since garlic is so pungent, it works well for flavoring tofu, which is bland without any seasoning and takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. Try it in this Vegan General Tso’s Tofu.
5. Five- Spice Powder
Today’s five-spice powder is made up of more than five spices, including star anise, cinnamon, fennel, Sichuan peppercorn, ginger, cloves, orange peel and licorice. Try it in a Chinese stir fry dish.
6. Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is a common sauce used throughout Chinese cooking. Use soy sauce to make the filling of these Perfect Fried or Steamed Veggie Dumplings, as well as the for the spicy soy dipping sauce.
7. Sesame Oil
Sesame oil has a distinct flavor and is great for hearty tofu and tempeh dishes. Use it for this Asian Chili Tofu.
8. White Pepper
White pepper has a sharp bite and is used in Chinese cooking to add extra flavor to dishes like soups, meat dishes and stir fries. Try it in this Dim Sum Soy Sauce Chow Mein Noodles.
9. Hoisin Sauce
In Chinese cooking, Hoisin sauce is used as a dipping sauce, marinade or glaze. It is made with soybean paste, chilies and salt. Try it in this Vegan Sesame Tofu.
Tamari is a type of soy sauce but it is different than the traditional soy sauce. Both are byproducts of soybeans, but tamari is made with little or no wheat, whereas traditional soy sauce does contain wheat. Use tamari for this Pomegranate Sweet and Sour Tempeh.
Lead image source: Vegan Sesame Tofu