The usual mainstays of a typical Chinese recipe include vegetables, noodles, rice and tofu.
Although to many it may seem that the cuisine has less to offer to vegetarians, but it is not true.
Cooked through a variety of methods and with different sauces, each recipe offers a unique flavor to its savore.
Vegetables like watercress are mainly used in salads in the west. But cooking it the Chinese way will make you relish it like a vegetable.
Usually vegetables like runner beans, aubergines, sprouts or peppers are cooked briefly over high heat, to retain both their nutrients and fresh flavor.
While tougher vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, water chestnuts etc are par boiled before undertaking other processes like sauteing or pan frying.
A single recipe can give you a mix of flavors and textures and that is what Chinese cooking is all about.
For instance you can begin by heating a small quantity of oil to a pan. Once it is moderately hot, add the vegetables stir fry. Then add flavorings. Cover and cook for a while making sure the veggies do not lose their crispiness. Then serve or finish with some Chinese sauce such as Szechwan or Sichuan, sweet and sour, black bean sauce etc
A beautiful mix of natural juices in oil and flavorings cooked in a combination of stir fry and steam makes the recipe healthy (low calorie)
Even when it comes to ingredients there are several replacements possible.
For instance if using dried mushrooms do not remain stuck sole to it many recipes make way for replacement with other varieties such as straw, abalone and button mushrooms as they all add flavor to Chinese dishes.
Addition of dry fruits such as almonds and walnuts especially in stir fry dishes such as crispy seaweed or spinach add both to the nutrient value and flavor.
Being high in protein, they are a good substitute for meat. Walnut skin has a bitter flavor which is lost in stir-frying.
Mock meat substitutes like seitan made from gluten or mock oyster add to the flavor of cooking.
In a blend of all these varied ingredients a vegetarian Chinese recipe, most often resembles a type of meat or seafood.