Buddha's Delight

Translation: Jai

Alternate Spellings: Luohan Zhai, Lo Han Jai, Lo Hon Jai, Buddhist Delight

Cuisine: Chinese

Region: Beijing

Recipe Type: Main Dish

Average User Rating: 0.21 / 5

Vegetarian / Vegan: Vegan

This dish is traditionally eaten by Buddhist monks, but has become quite popular the world over in Chinese restaurants as a "stand-by" vegetarian option. The dish is commonly served in Chinese households on the first day of the Chinese New Year, due to the customary belief that no meat should be consumed during the first five days of the new year. Each individual ingredient has its own symbolism in Chinese culture, some based on what the ingredient looks like, others based on the phonetic pronunciation of the ingredient's name (see illustration below).

This preparation prescribes to the tenents of traditional Chinese vegetarianism, which, in addition to meat, commonly eschews the use of pungent vegetables such as scallions, onions, and garlic. Some of the ingredients in this recipe may be difficult to find, omit as necessary.


1/2 cup bamboo shoots, thinly sliced
2 dried bean curd sticks, soaked for 45 minutes in hot water to soften, cut into 1" chunks
1/2 cup cellophane noodles, soaked in hot water until soft
6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water until soft (reserve soaking liquid for sauce)
1 carrot, julienned
1/4 cup dried lily buds, soaked in hot water until soft
1 oz. dried fat choy (black "hair" moss), soaked in hot water until soft
1/4 cup canned ginkgo nuts, drained
1/4 cup canned lotus seeds, drained
1/2 cup napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup peanuts, roasted
1/2 cup snow peas, julienned
1/2 cup fried tofu, cubed
1/2 cup wheat gluten, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh wood ear mushroom, cut into strips (or soak dried wood ears)
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup straw mushrooms
1/2 cup lotus root, thinly sliced
1/2 cup arrowroot (a starchy tuber), cooked and diced 1 TB peanut or vegetable oil

For sauce:

1/4 cup mushroom soaking liquid or vegetable stock
1.5 TB Shaoxing wine
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 TB vegetarian oyster sauce
1 TB light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp cornstarch


Heat 1 TB oil in wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add bean curd sticks, cabbage, snow peas, mushrooms, and carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Mix sauce ingredients in a bowl, stirring to dissolve cornstarch, and set aside. Add remaining ingredients, except cellophane noodles and peanuts, to wok, along with sauce, and stir to combine. Simmer until bubbly and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stir in cellophane noodles and peanuts, and serve.

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Prep Time: 1 hour

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4-6

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