Having vegan guests over, or simply deciding to eat more plant-based foods and less meat, can be challenging if you're used to cooking with animal produce, so here are some delicious & Easy Vegan Asian Recipes to make your dinner party planning easier!
Veganism vs Flexitarianism
I'm not vegan.
I'm probably going to get a lot of hate mail after saying this, but rather than being strictly vegan, I believe in a flexitarian diet and reducing my consumption of animal products, as well as buying meat that is sustainably and ethically raised.
Even Jonathan Safran Foer who wrote a book championing veganism has confessed to eating a little animal produce in the evenings.
Note I'm not saying don't be vegan, I'm saying I find it challenging to be 100% vegan. Of course, some foods may simply not be suitable for ethical mass production- without intensive farming (which often treats cows quite inhumanely), can cows produce enough milk to meet the world's demand?
Nonetheless, I find it hard to cook meat free, which is why I often browse vegan recipes for inspiration. I totally believe that it is possible to cook vegan food that's as tasty as non-vegan food, but it's a skill I haven't quite achieved, so I've collated this list of easy vegan Asian recipes to inspire myself, and hopefully you.
If these recipes aren't enough, I've got more vegan Chinese New Year dishes here. Alternatively, here is a list of vegan Asian recipes (all the ones on Greedygirlgourmet!) For cuisine specific recipes, here are some vegan South East Asian dishes as well as South Asian vegan/ vegetarian recipes.
Fun fact: I once spoke to a farmer who said that the best meat to eat is lamb, if you are concerned about animal welfare, as it's not possible to intensively farm sheep. Does anyone know more about this?
Plant-based meat substitutes
Tofu, tempeh, aubergines, mushrooms and young jackfruit are some ideal meat substitutes. Moreover, they're all traditionally used in Asian cuisine.
To reduce our consumption of beef, I actually make tempeh and jackfruit rendang instead of the usual beef rendang. (The texture of young jackfruit is quite similar to that of pulled pork.) Tofu and aubergine, on the other hand, absorb flavour deliciously- they're great for braising in savory sauce- whilst mushroom helps provide umami.
These are the basic ingredients- as well as dried kelp and nutritional yeast- that you'll need to stock up on to create delicious vegan Asian recipes.
Instead of cow's milk, try oat milk or soy milk. (Almond milk can be controversial and coconut milk has a very strong flavour so needs to be used sparingly.)
You can also make a vegan version of this Japanese soup by using a kelp & shiitake broth instead of a seafood dashi.
Tofu main dishes
Tofu is 1 of the key ingredients of Chinese cuisine and Japanese food. It's not only versatile, it's also not too expensive!
Sweet & sour tofu
Tofu Skin Salad
Black pepper tofu
General Tsos "chicken"
Do you prefer Kung bao chicken or General Tsos chicken? Don't forget to add some bell peppers to bulk up the dish.
Black bean tofu
Note: hoisin sauce is naturally vegan as it doesn't actually contain seafood despite its name! (Hoisin is cantonese for seafood) It's actually made from soybeans and spices.
Fun fact: Some people feel that hoisin sauce is a good substitute for dark soy sauce, although I'm not sure I agree!
My vegan and vegetarian friends sometimes complain about how they're tired of tofu, so here are some non-tofu vegan Asian dishes!
For more gluten-free recipes, click the link,
Veggies in a sweet ginger sauce
Stir fried veggies are great side dishes for meats such as Peking duck!
Eggplant & miso salad
Stir-fried napa cabbage
Broccoli and mushrooms
San Choy Bow
Lentil in lettuce cups
Curry is 1 of the easiest vegan dishes to make as all the spices and herbs give it a ton of flavour!
The rich flavors of the sauce will make you forget that there's no meat in the dish! If you can't get the firm tofu the recipe calls for, you can substitute with dried tofu rolls. (I've tried and it works!)
If you're tired of rice, why not make these vegan baos instead? They're great for dipping into curry and soak up all the flavours instantly. Not a fan of pandan or matcha? Leave them out, or just substitute with a flavor that you like!
Best of all, these mantou bao recipes are 1-rise, unlike the traditional version, making them much quicker to make!
Fluffy Matcha steamed buns
Mantou with pretty patterns
Bao with filling
Noodles & Rice
If you're gonna catch up on Squid Game, Hometown Cha Cha Cha or Crash Landing on You, why not make some jajangmyeon to go with it?
This spicy sauce is very flexible- you can use it for your veggie stir-fry too!
Noodles in creamy peanut sauce
Spicy garlic noodles
Fried rice is best made with leftover rice, but if you're tired of this dish, here are ways you can use leftover rice.
Easy healthy popcorn
This snack can be made in a gazillion ways- simply vary the seasoning:
- 1. toss it in 5-spice powder and salt
- dip it in vegan coconut caramel
- sprinkle with sugar (bone-char free) and chili powder etc
Dessert doesn't always need to have butter and sugar to taste good. You can even make vegan ice cream by swapping out dairy with coconut cream or cashew cream!
Black sesame soup
Red Bean Dessert
This glutinous rice dumpling- which can be eaten fried or in soup- is perfect for gatherings as it symbolises reunion. It's a must-have for Chinese New Year and the Winter Solstice!
Sour plum jellies
This easy Chinese dessert is a solid version of suanmeitang and great for aiding digestion!
Lychee champagne jellies
Osmanthus cake jelly
The name of this traditional Chinese dessert 桂花糕 (Gui Hua Gao)· literally translates into Osmanthus cake in English, but it's not really the same as a Western cake!
No sugar agar agar
If you're going all the way in being healthy, and not only cutting out animal products but also sugar, try this no sugar added agar agar jelly or 1 of these no sugar desserts. (I also have tips on sweetening tea sans sugar here.)
Agar agar is packed with fibre, and helps keep you full, so it's a great diet food (assuming no sugar is added of course) and you won't have to worry about gaining the pounds.
No sugar fruit salad with jelly
Yuzu konnyaku jelly
Chinese walnut cookies (Hup Toh Soh)
These Cantonese cookies use eggs, but you can omit them for a vegan version.
Chinese almond cookies
Fun fact: almond cookies are actually 1 of the most popular Asian cookies in the USA! It's not really that popular in Asia (peanut cookies & walnut cookies are more common) so I found it surprising!
Chinese peanut cookies
This recipe was developed after baking over 2000 cookies- some one has even ordered 22 jars at a go, so I guess they must taste not too bad!
Do you have a favourite to add to this list of Easy Vegan Asian recipes? If you've found this collection of recipes useful, I'd be super grateful if you share it on your social media!