Shopping Vegan in a Chinese Supermarket

Goods suitable for vegans from a Chinese supermarket

Becoming vegan led me to try out lots of foods that had been previously alien to me – especially opening up the world of Asian ingredients. No longer did Chinese food just mean sweet & sour veg, or Indian just vegetable curry.

One of the best things was discovering how to navigate my way around a Chinese supermarket. You might think such a place might not have that much to offer vegans – think again. There seems to be Chinese shops opening up in many towns and cities now.

Firstly, most have a good selection of tofu products, including silken, firm, battered and marinated and it tends to be a lot cheaper than an equivalent block in a health food shop, for example. This also applies to soya sauce, tamari, sesame oil and sushi seasoning – you get bigger bottles for much smaller prices.

Japanese ingredients in general, such as nori sheets, miso paste, sushi rice and kombu (seaweed) are much cheaper than in supermarkets and health food shops.

There are many more tasty things to try. Here’s a list of just a few;

  • Deep Fry Tofu Cubes or Puffs
  • Vegetarian Dumplings – Chive & Tofu filling is nice
  • Fresh and dried Japanese Udon Noodles
  • Steamed Buns – Bok Choy & Mushroom for example
  • Inari Pockets – made of tofu skin, to be stuffed with sushi rice
  • Vegetarian Duck (most sell frozen pancakes too, so you can make Mock Duck Pancakes with Spring Onion & Hoisin Sauce
  • Instant Noodles, such as Ramen, with packet flavouring (make a quick meal, but they aren’t that healthy!)

Please be careful though – many things have fish flakes added to them – in particular some tofu products. Just because something is tofu-based doesn’t mean it’s always vegetarian or vegan.

Here’s a quick recipe to get you started, using some vegan-friendly ingredients.

Really Quick Asian Style Noodles
Serves 2
Preparation/cooking time 10-15 mins

Asian-style Noodles

Asian-style Noodles

250g/8 oz dried Udon Noodles or around 400g/14 oz if using fresh
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 carrot, grated
½ courgette, grated
100g/3.5 oz fine green beans, chopped finely
2cm fresh ginger, grated
2 sheets Nori, rolled and cut into thin strips
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp rice mirin (optional)
Chilli & garlic sauce to serve (optional)

1. If using dried Udon, cook them according to packet instructions (this is usually only a few minutes in boiling water). If using fresh, add in at step 3.

2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add in the veg, nori and ginger and fry for 5 mins. Add in soya sauce and mirin and stir. Take off the heat.

3. Add in the noodles. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix in veg and sauce.
4. Serve immediately, with extra soya sauce and chilli & garlic sauce on the table.

Adding tofu pieces to this would also be really nice!


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