Vegan & Vegetarian recipes for Chinese New Year | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Vegan & Vegetarian recipes for Chinese New Year

Marinaded & Fried Tofu

Serves 2-4
Marinading time + 5-10 minutes frying time
If you've never had much luck with tofu, try this! A well-seasoned wok or non-stick frying pan will give you the best results.

  • 1 slab of plain firm tofu, drained (NOT SILKEN)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 3 tbsp water or more – enough liquid with soya sauce to soak into tofu
  • 1 heaped tsp grated ginger (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed

Chop the tofu into 2cm/1 inch cubes and place in a lidded container.
Mix soya sauce, water, garlic and optional ginger together.
Pour over tofu cubes.
Leave to marinade for several hours in a covered container in the fridge - overnight is even better.
Make sure you drain and mop tofu carefully with kitchen paper/clean cloth before cooking.
Save the marinade – it can be thickened with cornflour and added to stir-fried veggies if you wish, or just added to soups and stews.
Fry in a wok until golden brown and crispy on the outside, turning over with a wooden spatula or wooden chopstick until cubes are golden on each side.
Add a little marinade if tofu starting to stick.
Leave to cool then add to dish of your choice.
Options: Very good with peanut or other savoury sauce. Try smoked tofu for a stronger flavour.

Chinese Fried Rice

Preparation time 10 mins, Cooking time 10 mins
Fried rice is usually served as an accompaniment and is a great way of using up left-over rice and other items. This quick and easy recipe explains how to make plain fried rice, and goes on to suggest variations.

  • 800 g cold, cooked rice
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 Sprigs spring onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Start by putting 1 tbsp of the oil into a heated wok.
  2. Add the cold, cooked rice. Start working the rice by breaking it up by pushing the back of spatula onto any lumps. Add a little water if required - this will make the rice more pliable and less separated. Cook for approximately 1 minute.
  3. Once the rice has been heated through and is mostly separated, add the dark soy sauce and the light soy sauce and season to taste. The dark soy is used for colour, whilst the light soy is used for flavour. Mix the rice well to ensure the soy sauces are well distributed throughout.
  4. Finally, add the chopped spring onions (and any other vegetables you wish), stir briefly and serve.

Chow Mein

Serves 4
Cooking time 10 mins, Preparation time 10 mins
This dish is simple and quick and is perfect for the whole family. Add some chilli if you fancy spicing it up!

  • 230g rice or wheat durum noodles
  • 55g celery
  • 55g bamboo shoots
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 finely sliced small onion
  • 230g small button mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tbsp vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 115g beansprouts


  1. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the noodles, then put them into cold water until required.
  2. String the celery and slice diagonally. Shred the bamboo shoots.
  3. Heat a wok or large frying-pan and add the oil. When moderately hot, add the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Add the onion, mushrooms, celery, and bamboo shoots and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the noodles thoroughly and put into the wok. Continue to stir-fry for 1 minute then add the rest of the ingredients except the bean sprouts. Continue to stir-fry for another 2 minutes and then add the bean sprouts. Give the mixture a good stir and turn it onto a serving platter.
  5. Garnish with fresh coriander sprigs.

Boiled Dumplings (Jiao Zi)

These dumplings are a traditional Chinese meal, and can be pan fried or boiled. They are a healthy meal or perfect for a snack and are great served with soy sauce and/or vinegar.

  • 500 g sifted flour
  • 300 g vegan mince
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 100 g chopped spring onions
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • five spice powder to taste
  1. Mix the flour with 3 ¼ oz (100 ml) of water to make a dough. Knead until smooth and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. To prepare the filling, mix mince with 7 oz (200 ml) of water and the salt. Stir in one direction until it becomes a paste. Add the spring onions and blend well. Divide filling into 100 portions.
  3. Divide the dough into 4 portions and roll into long rolls. Cut each into 25 pieces. Flatten each piece and roll into 2 inches (5 cm) circles. Place 1 portion of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough over it, making a bonnet-shaped pouch. Pinch the edges together to seal the dumpling. Repeat until all the dough and filling are used.
  4. Bring 8 cups (2 litres) of water to a boil over high heat, Add half the dumplings. Stir them around gently, and let the water return to a boil. Add enough cold water to stop the boiling, then bring back to a boil. When the water boils again, add more cold water and bring to a boil a third time. The dumplings will be done when they float to the surface. Remove, drain well, and serve.

Kung Pao ‘Chicken’

Serves 4

  • 450 g vegan chicken (such as Redwoods Cheatin’ Chicken Pieces) or plain tofu
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (divided)
  • cornstarch mized with 1/12 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3½ tbsp vegetable oil (divided)
  • 1 handful unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 4-8 crushed red chillies to taste
  • 1 slice peeled fresh ginger (chopped)
  • 1 clove sliced garlic
  • Combine ‘chicken’ or tofu, 1 tbsp soy sauce, and cornstarch/water mixture; allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
  • Combine 2 tbsp soy sauce, sherry, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and sesame oil; set aside.
  • In a hot wok, stir-fry the peanuts in 1 ½ tbsp vegetable oil until golden brown, remove peanuts from wok, and set aside.
  • Fill wok with vegetable oil for frying and heat to 350 degrees. Carefully slide the ‘chicken’ or tofu into the wok, piece by piece, and fry for 1 minute.
  • Remove ‘chicken’ or tofu from oil and drain on a brown paper bag. Remove oil from wok.
  • In hot wok, stir-fry the red peppers in 2 tbsp vegetable oil until they turn dark. Add ginger, garlic, and ‘chicken’ or tofu to the wok and fry, stirring constantly. Stir the prepared sauce and add to the wok. Stir and cook wok contents until the sauce is thickened. Stir in peanuts and serve.


Ginger Tofu Chop Suey

Serves 4
Preparation time 10 mins, Cooking time 10 mins

  • 350 g plain firm tofu
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 175 g beansprouts
  • 3 cm root ginger
  • 2 tsp vegan oyster sauce
  • 2 spring onions
  • salt & pepper
  • marinade
  • 2 tsp Chinese rice wine (shao hsing)
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rich soy sauce
  • Cut tofu into thin strips and place into a bowl with the rice wine and both soy sauces. Cover and place into the fridge to marinate overnight.
  • Obtain a flavoured oil by bruising the garlic with the flat of a knife and frying in 2 tsp of oil heated in a wok for 30 seconds, discard the garlic.
  • Add the beansprouts with seasoning and stir fry for 30 seconds, move to a heated dish after draining off any surplus oil.
  • Now heat the rest of the oil in the wok and stir fry the tofu until cooked, for about 3 mins.
  • Add the matchstick size ginger strips, oyster sauce and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the beansprouts and diagonally sliced spring onions, stir fry briskly and serve at once.

Peking Duck-less

Serves 4

  • 1 block plain firm tofu
  • 2 litres boiling water
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp Chinese five spice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 6 tbsp hoi sin sauce
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

For the pancakes

  • 4 spring onions, shredded
  • 1/2 cucumber, shredded
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup soya milk (Combine these ingredients together to make a smooth batter, cook in a well oiled frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 mintues on each side, or until golden brown)

    3. Mix the soy sauce, five spice powder and brown sugar together. Using a pastry brush, brush this sauce over the tofu.

    4. Leave the tofu to dry. There should now be a thin glaze all over the tofu. Give the tofu another coat of sauce and leave to dry once more. Keep repeating the process until all sauce has been used up.

    4. Cut the tofu into strips or cubes and add fry in a well oiled frying pan until golden brown.

    5. To make the sauce, warm a wok over a moderate heat , and add the sesame oil, hoi sin sauce, caster sugar, water, soy sauce, and the cornflour and water mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and cook down until the sauce has thickened. Leave to cool.

    6. Warm the pancakes in a bamboo steamer for about 4 minutes. Spread a teaspoon or so of sauce over each pancake and scatter with a little of the spring onions and shredded cucumber. Top with a generous helping of tofu. Roll up the pancakes into a cigar shape and serve.

Broccoli & Smoky Tofu in Hoisin Sauce

Serves 2

  • 125g/4oz white rice
  • 500g/1lb broccoli florets
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 250-300g/8-10oz packet smoked tofu, drained and cut into thin pieces
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce (available in jars from supermarkets and elsewhere)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Boil kettle for rice and cook rice in a pan of boiling water for about 10 minutes (test after 8).
  2. Cook broccoli in saucepan of boiling water until just tender – about 4 minutes.
  3. Check rice – if it’s cooked, drain and rinse in cold water to prevent it cooking in own heat.
  4. Drain broccoli and return to warm saucepan.
  5. Meanwhile, heat sesame oil in a frying pan or wok and fry tofu on both sides, until crisp and golden brown.
  6. Add tofu to broccoli, together with hoisin and soy sauces and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cook gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring until heated through.
  8. Heat through rice and serve with tofu/broccoli mixture.


Crispy Noodle Cakes with Shiitake Mushrooms

Serves 2

  • 125g/4oz thin noodles
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu or tamari soy sauce
  • salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • For the vegetables
  • 125g/4oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped and stems trimmed if necessary
  • 300g/10oz bok choy (pak choi), chopped
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, shoyu or tamari soy sauce
  • salt
  • 1½ teaspoons red chilli sauce or purée
  • ½ teaspoon water
  1. Put noodles into a saucepan of rapidly boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente.
  2. Drain well, add soy sauce and a little salt to taste.
  3. Heat 1 tsp of sesame oil in a large frying pan, preferably non-stick.
  4. Add half the noodles, forming them into a flat, oval cake, slightly less than 1cm/½inch thick.
  5. Push to one side of the pan to make room for another similar cake.
  6. Cook over a moderate heat for 4-5 minutes, until the undersides are a deep golden brown, then turn them with a fish slice and cook the other side, adding a little more oil if necessary. They will take a good 4 minutes to get really crisp.
  7. Meanwhile, stir-fry vegetables. Heat 3 tsp of oil in a large saucepan or wok and add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add mushrooms.
  8. Stir-fry over a moderately high heat for 3 minutes, until beginning to soften, then add bok choy and stir-fry for a further 3-4 minutes, until it is wilted and tender but still crisp.
  9. Mix cornflour with teriyaki or soy sauce and add to pan; cook for 1-2 minutes to thicken. Taste and add a little salt if necessary.
  10. Mix chilli sauce or purée with water.
  11. Arrange a noodle cake and half vegetables on each plate; put drops of chilli-water mixture around edge, then serve immediately.

Five Spice Rice

Serves 2-4 (either as a main dish with some extra veggies or as a side dish with vegetable pancakes)

  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¼ cup dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
  • few splashes of Chinese soy sauce
  1. Rinse rice in a sieve with cold water and set aside to drain.
  2. Warm oil in a medium saucepan and add ginger, garlic and five-spice powder.
  3. Sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add rice and salt and sauté for another 2 minutes, continuing to stir.
  5. add water and sherry/rice wine, bring to boil and then gently simmer for about 40 minutes, until all water absorbed and rice tender.
  6. Add soya sauce to taste and serve.

Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir-Fry with Noodles

Serves 2

  • Stir-fry
  • 125g/4oz thin noodles
  • 4 tsp toasted sesame oil or plain cooking oil if you can’t get it (not olive)
  • 250-300g/8-10oz packet firm tofu, drained and sliced long ways into 2-3 ‘steaks, depending on thickness of slab
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 courgette, cut into matchsticks
  • 125g/4oz mange tout, halved
  • 8 spring onions, sliced
  • 250g/8oz can water chestnuts, drained and halved
  • Sauce
  • ½ tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp shoyu or tamari soya sauce
  • 1 tsp castor sugar
  • 1 tbsp syrup (golden or date)
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar (use ½ white wine vinegar to ½ water if you can’t get it)
  1. Boil kettle for noodles.
  2. Heat 2 tsp of sesame oil in a frying pan or wok, add tofu ‘steaks’ and fry on both sides until crisp and golden brown. This will take about 4-5 minutes on each side and you may need to do it in two batches, depending on size of pan, so do it before you begin work on vegetables.
  3. Cook noodles in pan of boiling water for required time on packet, drain in cold water and set aside.
  4. While tofu is cooking, mix together sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  5. Heat remaining sesame oil in a wok and add all vegetables.
  6. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until heated through but still crunchy.
  7. Once tofu golden brown on each side, remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  8. Give sauce a quick stir then pour into wok and stir until thickened.
  9. Slice tofu into small pieces, add to pan and stir until coated with sauce.
  10. Heat noodles through gently and serve sweet & sour veggies with them.


Mock Duck Pancakes

Serves 2
10-15 minutes
This is a brilliant alternative to the traditional recipe – and much kinder to ducks, of course!  Lots of small dishes of food on the table also make it look appetizing and because you assemble each wrap yourself and pass dishes around, it’s a very communal-style meal – a great conversation starter!  
1 tbsp cooking oil (not olive)
1 large red pepper
225g/8oz seitan (pronounced ‘satan’ and available from health food shops, e.g Vegetalia or Yakso brands. Also ‘mock duck’ or gluten available in tins from oriental supermarkets)
Large handful of beansprouts
4 radishes, cut into slices
4 spring onions, cut into approximately 7cm/3 inch slices and then into thin slivers lengthways
4-6 soft tortillas/wraps OR 1 pack of Chinese pancakes (available in freezer of oriental stores)
60 ml/4tbsp shoyu soya sauce
2 tbsp rice or cider vinegar
2 tsp date or maple syrup
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp grated root ginger
1 large clove garlic, crushed
½ -1 tsp dark miso, to taste

  1. Prepare all vegetables for stir-fry, accompaniments and sauce.
  2. Slice seitan or mock duck into thin slices.
  3. Place sliced spring onions and radishes in separate small bowls.
  4. Make sauce:

    • Place all ingredients (except miso) in a small pan.
    • Heat gently until simmering, stirring continuously.
    • When sauce is thickened, add the miso to taste.
    • Place in a small serving bowl and keep warm until rest of meal is ready.
  5. Slice wraps into 2 or 4 pieces, depending on size (no need to do this if you have Chinese pancakes, as they are small).
  6. Gently warm the wraps in oven or microwave and keep warm in a clean tea-towel or foil.
  7. Heat a wok or large frying-pan.until hot.
  8. Add oil, then stir-fry red pepper and seitan until red pepper softened and seitan browned – about 3 minutes.
  9. Just before the end, add the bean sprouts and warm through with rest of stir-fry.
  10. Place stir-fry in a serving bowl.
  11. Put all bowls of food and wraps on the table.
  12. Each person takes one wrap and smears some sauce on it.
  13. Add a few spring onions, radish slices and stir-fry mix to wrap.
  14. Roll up and eat.
  15. Repeat!