~ Luo Han Zhai (Vegetarian Delight) Served the Hakka Way~
Luo Han Zhai or Buddha’s Delight is a common vegetarian dish with 18 types of ingredients representing the 18 Arhats or disciples of Gautama Buddha. It is known to be served at Buddhists Temples or vegetarian restaurants linked to the religion. The dish has an in-depth history amongst the Buddhists but it has not limited its popularity to both non-vegetarians and vegetarians outside of the religion, simply because of the vast ingredients in the dish for a healthy eat.
This dish has become a staple to my family during the Chinese New Year since I was young. It is usually served with steamed rice, with the choice of wrapping them in fresh and raw lettuce leaves. In our family, the dish is served all day long from breakfast to dinner. As there are usually many visiting, whether “inbound” or “outbound”, and the family members eat irregularly (due to the many yummy cookies and snacks) amid a busy first day of the Lunar New Year, this vegetarian dish cooked in large quantity which can be reheated at any time of the day serves us right. It is a brilliant choice for detoxification!
As my parents are committee members to a local temple back in where they are residing, my mum has always cooked a big wokful or two of Luo Han Zhai for mid-night prayers after the reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. I do not remember her being so particular with the type of ingredients but the objective is to prepare at least 10 types of ingredients within the time available. Of course, I occasionally become her helper in preparation of the big dish. How does she handle such a big dish, ensuring all ingredients are properly cooked through? Nonetheless, she uses the AMC cooking system which comes with a temperature indicator. That makes life so much easier.
Now that I have my own family, I have made it a point to continue the tradition of cooking this same vegetarian dish, Luo Han Zhai, on the first day of the Lunar New Year too. I thought it is a practical dish for lunch or dinner, not breakfast though. We have been having our quiet Chinese New Year holidays in Singapore ever since we have our little one. While it is great to be initiating our own Chinese New Year traditions, I sometimes miss the travelling back to visit my parents at home during the festive season. To ensure that I mend the missing part during occasion like this, whilst I am cooking automatically with the AMC system, live broadcast can be shared with them showing off my continuity of the Chinese cooking tradition which carries meaningful symbolism, many due to its homonyms.
In our Hakka tradition, Luo Han Zhai can be served by rolling them with raw lettuce leaves. When you eat small amount of these wrapped or rolled in a lettuce leaves, it symbolises “having a child soon”. Now, don’t you think the Chinese tradition is interesting?! *LOL*
Luo Hon Zhai (Vegetarian Delight) Recipe (Serves 4) :
- 12 medium size Dried Mushrooms (soaked & halved)
- 2 medium Carrot (cut into 1/2cm thick)
- 50 grams Dried Black Fungus (soaked & stripped)
- 200 grams Chinese Cabbage / Bak Choy (cut into 1 inch long)
- 100 grams Dried Beancurd Sticks (soaked)
- 1 pack 400 grams, 2 pieces Tau Kwa (cut into 16 pieces each)
- 1 mini pack, 20 grams Glass Noodles (soaked)
- 1/2 pack or 50 grams Dried Bamboo Fungus (soaked and cleaned)
- 50 grams Gingko (deshelled & root removed)
- 30 grams Black Moss / Fatt Choy (soaked)
- 4 square pieces Fermented Beancurd / Nam Yu (mashed & diluted in water)
- 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
- 200ml Water
- 12 lettuce leaves, optional (to wrap/roll Luo Han Zhai)
AMC Healthy Cooking Method :
- Dilute fermented beancurd and brown sugar in water. Set aside.
- In a 24cm 5.0 litre Pot unit, add all dripping wet ingredients chronologically from 1 to 10 as listed above. Pour diluted fermented beancurd sauce onto the ingredients.
- Switch on Navigenio on automatic mode “A” and turn on Audiotherm, place on the Lid knob, indicating “Carrot Window” or 80°C and set to cook for 5 minutes.
- As Audiotherm beeps, turn off both the Navigenio and Audiotherm. Remove lid and gently stir to mix all ingredients evenly.
- Dish out the Luo Han Zhai and serve warm with raw lettuce leaves and steamed rice.
- Luo Han Zhai cooked through at an evenly distributed temperature of 98°C with the AMC Premium Cooking System, last overnight. Hence, you may prepare the dish the night before, without storing them in the refrigerator, in case you need to serve them early in the morning on the next day.
- You may prepare big wokful of Luo Han Zhai with the AMC 28cm 3.0 litre Roasting Pan for 5-6 person or the AMC 32cm 9.5 litre Party Pot/Jumbo for 10-12 person too!
- There are many other ingredients that can be added to Luo Han Zhai. You may add dried lily buds, dried sweet curds, lotus seeds, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, snow peas, baby corn and/or arrow heads too, making this an 18 ingredients Luo Han Zhai dish.