Long gone are the days when meat free meals were boring or predictable. Vegetarian food now offers one of the most exciting options on the menu, in any style of cuisine. If you love the food of Asia, there are countless dishes that are vegetarian friendly. With a little tweak, many of the dishes are vegan-approved too.
It’s worth visiting your local Asian supermarket for specialty ingredients, and cooking inspiration. The more you experiment with Asian flavours in the kitchen, the quicker you’ll feel confident to serve up a tasty vegetarian katsu curry for your friends and family.
Here are some amazing Asian dishes to make at home:
A simple stir-fry is a great starting point for anyone who wants to cook vegetarian friendly meals. The most popular options are lo mein and chow mein. They can both be prepared with countless combinations of vegetables or eggs. These dishes give you free reign over how many different types of fresh veggies you throw into them, alongside the noodles of your choice.
The sauce doesn’t have to be a complex mix. Combining soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, mustard powder, sugar, red chilli flakes and a little cornstarch will create a flavoursome stir-fry sauce that thickens and coats all of the vegetables in the wok. For added protein, you can also add chunks of firm tofu before serving.
Traditionally made from pork and chicken bones, and dried fish, congee is a versatile rice-based porridge-like dish that is popular in many Asian countries. It can be served plain, savoury or sweet.
To make this vegetarian friendly, swap the meat and fish for earthy mushrooms that have a meaty texture and taste. Top with a sliced boiled egg or a fried egg that has a runny yolk, for added protein. To make congee suitable for vegans, omit the egg.
Extra Vegetable Fried Rice
For an interesting take on an Asian take-out favourite, rustle up a tasty rice dish that is packed with veggies, flavour and colour. It’s great for using up leftover rice and random veggies that you have in the fridge.
Brown rice makes a great base for this healthy and nutritious dish that takes little time to make. Take your pick of vegetables, and cut them up into small pieces. Red cabbage, spring onions, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower create a colourful concoction. Cook the rice, vegetables and eggs separately and toss together before serving.
Korean Bibimbap Bowls
If you love Asian food that is served in a bowl, this is the perfect dish for you. Korean bibimbap bowls feature lots of fabulous ingredients that are brought together with spicy Gochujang sauce. Although this dish usually includes plain white rice, a selection of vegetables, beef and a fried egg, you can easily swap the meat for protein packed, pan-fried firm tofu.
Another dish that boasts a fantastic flavoursome sauce is Szechaun noodles. Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, tahini, peanut butter and honey, and you have a great Asian sauce to add to a wok full of fresh vegetables and your favourite type of noodles.
A teriyaki stir-fry is a simple dish that has a lot going on. You don’t need to feature chicken in it to make a flavour packed meal that is healthy and nutritious. As a rule, your quota of brightly coloured fresh vegetables should be greater than the amount of noodles or rice that you use. Go for broccoli, edamame, bell peppers, spring onions and mushrooms, or use up leftover veggies.
To make the terrific teriyaki sauce, mix soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger, honey, and sesame oil, and some cornstarch to thicken the sauce as it cooks. Adding crispy pan-fried tofu, scrambled eggs or a fried egg provides extra protein. Don’t forget to sprinkle the dish with sesame seeds.
Once you’ve mastered this dish, you’ll be well on your way to creating a perfect vegetarian katsu curry.
Tofu Pad Thai
Tofu pad Thai is the vegetarian friendly version of Thailand’s national dish and most popular street food.
It features rice noodles, pan-fried firm tofu, stir-fried eggs, tamarind paste, vegan fish sauce, garlic, red chilli pepper and palm sugar. You can also add spring onions, bamboo shoots, and raw banana flowers for added colour and texture, with a sprinkling of peanuts on top.
Thai Tofu Satay
Satay dishes are all about the rich and creamy sauce that has an addictive nutty taste. Blending soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar, rice vinegar and lime juice with a little warm water brings the delicious sauce together.
Marinade firm tofu in soy sauce, coconut milk, sriracha, maple syrup, garlic powder and ginger powder, and allow the meat free alternative to absorb the flavours in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before baking for 10 minutes. Serve on skewers for easy dipping into the satay sauce.
Vegetarian Katsu Curry
To make a great Japanese vegetarian katsu curry you need a panko crusted tofu ‘cutlet’ or plant-based meat free alternative, to replace the chicken or pork that is traditionally served.
As with many Asian dishes, the star of the show is the creamy, sweet and tangy curry sauce that is mildly spiced. Serve the curry sauce drenched tofu alongside a portion of rice.