Vegan Buddha's Delight (Luo Han Cai)

August 31, 2020
Buddha's delight or luo han cai ( 罗汉斋) is a healthy Chinese chap cai dish (vegetable stew) that is naturally vegan. It is usually served in the New Year, though considering the year that has been, perhaps I was subconsciously wondering, "is it 2021 yet?" Though usually served warm, this also makes a great cold dish—similar to a cold noodle salad. Simply prep in advance and cool in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight before serving.

There are many versions of this dish with slight variations in ingredients, but all of them involve plenty of fresh veggies and light vermicelli noodles. Some interesting variations include chestnuts, lotus root, red dates, gingko nuts, bamboo shoots, lily buds, snow peas, and baby corn. It can include over 30 ingredients which is pretty cool but time-consuming, so here is my simplified version.

Feel free to substitute with whatever mushrooms, cabbage or noodles you have on hand and you can use firm tofu or fried tofu instead of bean curd. Try not to skip the cooking wine though, it makes all the difference in flavor.
buddha's delight

Vegan Buddha’s Delight (Luo Han Cai)

utensils YIELDS Serves 4
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 large Onion
  • 1 2.5cm/1-inch knob Ginger
  • 3 tbsp Sake or Chinese cooking wine
  • 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 cup, pre-soaked Bean curd
  • 1/2 cup, pre-soaked Dried mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup, pre-soaked Wood ear mushroom
  • 6 leaves Napa cabbage
  • 2 Carrots
  • 250g Vermicelli
  • Approx 2 cups and 3 tbsp Water
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1. Slice the ginger thinly. Mince the garlic and cut the onion into thick chunks.

2. Boil 3 tbsp water in a pot over medium heat. Traditionally, this recipe involves a decent amount of oil. I wanted to keep it healthy so just cooked these in water.

3. Add the cooking wine, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce.

4. Slice the carrots diagonally and add to the pot.

5. Cut the Napa cabbage into large chunks and add to the pot. This will release some moisture so you won’t need to add as much later. Cook for 5 minutes.

6. Add the bean curd, dried mushrooms and wood ear mushrooms.

7. Once all other ingredients are simmering, add more water. Add vermicelli – the water should just cover the vermicelli.

8. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Here you can add more light soy sauce to taste. Then turn the heat off and allow the vegetables to continue cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Once the noodles have softened and the vegetables are cooked through, it’s ready to serve!

Also by Debbie: Vegan Malaysian Tofu In Mushroom Sauce

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Photo: Debbie Tan

Debbie was born in Malaysia and grew up in New Zealand. She loves writing, musicals, and living a plant based life. A digital marketer by day, she is also passionate about visual storytelling. She hopes to show that living a more sustainable and compassionate lifestyle can be simple and fun! Debbie has volunteered for social and environmental causes over the years, and interviewed Dr Jane Goodall on her 2018 world tour. Visit her Instagram @debbietan96 for snaps of delicious food and plants, and YouTube for music.


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