Hannah Che’s Vegan Chinese Recipes Modernize a 1,000-Year-Old Tradition
In her new cookbook, chef Hannah Che explores the plant-based traditions of Chinese cuisine with recipes that are healthy, sustainable, and rich in history.
Can veganism go viral? If anyone can accomplish that in the world of Chinese cuisine, it’s Hannah Che. Hailing from Portland and now based in Taipei, Taiwan, the chef, photographer, food stylist, and author has made a name for herself chronicling her adventures in vegan Chinese cooking across her blog and social channels. Watch her drool-inducing Instagram videos (@hannah.che) of nori-wrapped tofu pan-fried and glazed in sticky teriyaki sauce or fluffy black-sesame buns emerging fresh from the steamer, and you, too, will join the 100,000-plus social acolytes showering “likes” on her posts of plant-forward, photo-worthy, and above all delicious approach to Chinese cooking.
While Che’s evangelization of vegan cooking is on trend, the traditions and recipes from which she takes inspiration are as old as the ages. Vegan Chinese cooking has its roots in Buddhist zhai cai culinary philosophy, in which seasonal vegetables are prepared with umami-rich dried shiitake mushrooms, deeply flavored black vinegar, and briny fermented black soybeans, with an added layer of complexity often coming from wok hei, the distinctive smoky char imparted by high-heat wok cooking.
Dishes from this tradition and more are included in her new book, The Vegan Chinese Kitchen: Recipes and Modern Stories From a Thousand-Year-Old Tradition: A Cookbook (Clarkson Potter; $35), a vital and inspiring resource for any serious cook who wants to add more plant-based dishes to their repertoire. Here, we’ve excerpted her excellent vegan versions of Chinese classics for you to recreate in your home kitchen.