Buddha’s delight

Buddha’s delight

By
From
Have You Eaten
Serves
6-8
Photographer
Billy Law

Not many people can say that they have cooked for the Dalai Lama, but am extremely honoured and humbled to have had that opportunity when I cooked this dish for His Holiness during my time on ‘MasterChef’.

Buddha’s delight, also known as ‘luo han zhai’, is a vegetarian dish traditionally enjoyed by Buddhist monks. This popular dish has been passed through generations and, much like Chinese whispers, this has resulted in many variations, including a non-vegetarian version that is cooked in oyster sauce with the addition of seafood. Don’t let the list of ingredients in this recipe freak you out! It may look daunting, but this dish is very simple to make and is a one-pot wonder.

Dried ingredients

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
50g packet glass noodles
15-20 dried lily buds
5 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 large cloud ear fungus
1 bunch fatt choy
10 red dates

Fresh ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 carrot, thinly sliced
50g bamboo shoots, thinly sliced
5 baby corn
10 snow peas
50g bunch enoki mushrooms, ends trimmed
200g chinese cabbage, washed and cut into 3 cm strips
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 french shallots, thinly sliced
2 cubes nam yu, mashed, (optional)
250ml water
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornflour, mixed with 4 tablespoons water
2 oiled bean curd sheets, cut into 30 cm squares

Method

  1. Prepare all the dried ingredients first. Soak the glass noodles in a bowl of water for 1 hour until softened, then drain. Soak the lily buds in hot water for 30 minutes until softened, then trim off any hard stalks and tie each bud into a knot. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 1 hour, then drain. Remove and discard the mushroom stalks, then slice the mushrooms in half. Soak the cloud ear fungus in lukewarm water for 30 minutes, then tear into smaller pieces. Soak the fatt choy in water for 30 minutes until softened. Soak the red dates in water for 30 minutes, then halve them and remove the seeds.
  2. Prepare all the fresh ingredients as directed and set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium–high heat and fry the garlic and shallots for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the mashed nam yu cubes and cook, stirring, for another minute.
  4. Add the shiitake mushrooms, carrot, bamboo shoots, baby corn and snow peas. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the lily buds, red dates, cloud ear fungus and enoki mushrooms, and stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Lastly, add the Chinese cabbage and give it a quick stir.
  5. Add the water, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil, and simmer for 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stir in the glass noodles, then add the fatt choy but try to keep it in one clump by not stirring it too much. Thicken the sauce by adding the cornflour and water mixture, then let it braise for few minutes.
  7. Just before the vegetables are ready, lay the bean curd sheets in a large bowl or round claypot, with the corners hanging over the rim of the bowl. Pick the fatt choy out of the wok and place it in the bowl, on top of the bean curd sheet, then fill with the vegetables. Pick up the corners of the bean curd sheets and fold them over to enclose the vegetables.
  8. Place an upside-down serving plate over the bowl, then carefully pick up both the plate and bowl and flip it over. Use chopsticks to tear the bean curd parcel apart, revealing the vegetables inside.
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