People who have been to Chinese vegetarian restaurants are probably familiar with various "mock meat" dishes. Generally, there are two attitudes toward those dishes: Among those who dislike it, there are vegetarians who think it's hypocritical and meat eaters who think it's troublesome to make mock meat when they could eat the real thing. Among those who like it, there are vegetarians who think it's not necessary to sacrifice the life of animals if dishes can be made so tasty with fake meat, and, further, that fake meat can help beginners adapt to a vegetarian diet gradually
I hold the latter attitude, of course. Actually, I think most vegetarians who hate those dishes are just reacting with revulsion because the dish names contain the word "meat" (well, some vegetarians really don't like the taste of meat. But according to meat specialists, "mock meat" and real meat do have different tastes). What if the name were changed to something more vegetarian-friendly? For instance, instead of "mock shredded meat with Beijing Sauce," I could call it "shredded soy fiber with Beijing Sauce." Then probably no one would hate it, right?
Anyway, I have tasted this dish (and liked it very much) at Vegetarian Lifestyle many times. Due to my lack of Chinese-cuisine training, however, I never succeeded in copying it at home. The version below came out after several failures, and kind of reached my own bar for tastiness. But it's still far from the level I aimed at. Eh, that's the way a perfectionist is. *sigh*
Yields 1 portion
1 zucchini, shredded
50 to 80g dried soy fiber, soaked in water until they're soft, then drained
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Baoning Vinegar
40g sweet paste sauce
1. Soak the soy fiber, lay on baking pan, and bake at 200C in preheated oil for 20 mins.
2. Heat the oil in the pan, add crushed garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add zucchini and stir fry for 3 to 4 mins.
3. Add soy fiber, continue cooking for 2 to 3 mins.
4. Turn the heat to low. Mix together sugar, vinegar, and sweet-paste sauce. Pour evenly into pan and mix well. Continue mixing and stir-frying for 1 to 2 mins. Done!
Sichuanese native and Chengdu resident Annie blogs about her adventures in cooking vegetarian meals, adapting recipes from around the world. Recently she has translated some of her favorite posts into English for GoChengdoo readers to enjoy. The original, Chinese-language version of this post can be viewed here. Photo by Annie Chen.
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