Chinese and western desserts are quite different. Western desserts often 'attack you' with sweetness, overwhelming your taste buds with chocolate and sugar. On the other hand, Chinese desserts tend to be more balanced and savoury. They also tend to be warm, which is a welcome change from a refrigerated slice of cake or ice cream.
Unfortunately, as a vegan, I don’t get many opportunities to enjoy Chinese delicacies. And I prefer eating to cooking, so I’m not interested in a complicated recipe that calls for exotic ingredients.
Writing this article gave me the chance to try out some new recipes, while expanding my cultural knowledge.
1. Homemade Red Bean Buns (Dou Sha Bao)
This one is so easy that I couldn’t believe it was real. I read through the first 20 comments to check that it actually worked. I was satisfied with my results even though my buns were pretty misshapen!
For this recipe, the only unusual supplies that you need are red bean paste and a steamer. You can either make the red bean paste yourself (recipe here), or you can buy some from an Asian store. As for a steamer, there are plenty of makeshift methods if you don’t own one. All of these techniques essentially involve placing a porous container over a boiling pot of water.
Finally, I have a personal serving suggestion. I tend to eat red bean buns as dessert, so I try to maximise the sweetness of them. I like to add juicy fruits on the side, like mangoes, strawberries, and blueberries, and drizzling a little honey on top.
2. Mung Bean CakeIf you can pull off this recipe correctly, then you will impress everyone you know with minimal effort. Mung bean cakes look incredibly ornate, giving the illusion that they are difficult to make. However, all you need is a good mould. (Unfortunately, I did not have a mould, so my mung bean cakes were tasty but shapeless blobs.)
The recipe that I followed is not technically vegan because it calls for butter, but this is an easy fix. Most stores sell dairy-free butter alternatives, and they work as one-to-one substitutions. I used vegan butter, and my mung bean cakes were fine.
This recipe only uses two special ingredients: glutinous rice flour and red bean paste. Both of these should be available at your local Asian store. I was especially excited to find this recipe because I’ve never had pumpkin pancakes before, vegan or otherwise. I’m really looking forward to testing these out this weekend!