Tag Archives: veganism

Tofu Rolls for World Vegan Day

News and Travel Editor

Happy World Vegan Day!

To celebrate, we’re sharing a recipe for a delicious vegan Chinese meal. (If you’re more of a carnivore, there is an alternate option involving bacon, but why not give the Tofu version a go in the spirit of the day? Whichever you try, let us know how you get on! We’d love to see pictures)

Here it is, delicious Tofu Mushroom Rolls!

Psst, to see more from Coco, click here to discover the secret behind delicious Peking Noodles.

If you want to find out more about eating Vegan in China, check out our handy guide!

To see more from Shiv, visit his blog here.

 

 

 

Legends of Tofu

News and Travel Editor

In today’s upload, we’re meeting a married couple who have devoted their lives to making Tofu.

So we now know how to make Tofu, but where did it come from? The earliest existing document containing mention of the term “doufu” (Chinese for Tofu) is the Ch’ing I Lu, written by T’ao Ku in about 950 AD. There are several  Chinese legends concerning the origins of Tofu, but which is true?

  1. A popular theory is that tofu was invented by Liu An, King of Huai-nan, who lived in the southeast part of north China from 179-122 BC. Despite being the most well known story, it’s also the least likely to be true. There was no mention of tofu or any works commissioned by or about Liu An for over 1,000 years after his death. Linking his name with the development of tofu didn’t actually start until the 12th century AD.During the Sung dynasty (960-1279AD) tofu had become a common food for the lower classes. The first suggestion of some connection between Liu An and tofu appeared in the poems of scholar Chu Hsi (1130-1200). Here is his poem, “Doufu.” (Psst, if you’re interesting in reading about translating ancient Chinese poetry, have a look here)

    I have raised beans for many years, but the sprouts were rare.

    Exhausted in the garden, the heart already rotten

    Had I known Huai-nan’s skill earlier,

    I could have sat quietly, raking in the money.

  2. Another theory is known as ‘The Accidental Coagulation Theory’. It states that tofu was developed  accidentally some time before AD 600, when an unknown person seasoned a pureed soybean soup with unrefined sea salt and noticed that curds formed. This mystery person stumbled onto a game-changer!
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  3. The Indian Import Theory argues that tofu, or at least the method for its preparation, was imported from tribes or Buddhist monks from India.
  4. The Mongolian Import Theory states that the basic method for making tofu was adapted from the cheese-making process learned from milk-drinking Mongolian tribes living along the northern border of China.5th-cut-00_03_42_18-still015

Which legend do you believe?

Wherever it came from originally, Tofu developed from being a food for the lower classes to being a staple part of the Chinese diet. To try cooking with Tofu yourself and have a go at China Icon’s Vegan Tofu Mushroom rolls!

 

Can you be a Vegan in China?

News and Travel editor

Is it possible to be a Vegan in China? You may be travelling to China for the first time and worried about your options, or could just be curious to know if it’s possible. It’s true that it can be a challenge to maintain a Vegan diet on your trip to China, but it is definitely possible and we’ve got a lot of tips to help.

How to tell people you are a vegan

The first thing you need to know is how to tell other people that you are a Vegan. There is no direct translation, which can be a bit frightening! However, don’t panic. What is often recommended instead is the phrase ‘Wǒ chī sù’, meaning ‘I eat vegetables’. Check out the pronunciation here.

What to watch out for

In China, most cooking stocks are made from meat, and meat is added to just about everything.

When you’re eating out, be aware that the further away you venture from tourist hotspots, the less likely you are to find English translations on the menu. In a similar vein, being in a big city means that vegetarian restaurants and cafes are more frequently available, such as this fine-dining restaurant in Beijing.

Don’t assume that most Buddhists in China are Vegan or Vegetarian. Some temples DO have Vegetarian restaurants attached but certainly not all.

Make sure to bring snacks on Chinese Airlines, as you’re unlikely to be offered a Vegan option on the plane.

Keep an eye out for…

Fruits and Vegetables

We could be here all day, so I’ll just mention a few of my favourites. Star fruit, lychees, rambutan, jackfruit and baked sweet corn are all delicious and easily available from markets and street food vendors.

Tofu

Tofu needs a whole blog to itself, as it’s so versatile and a staple in the diet of Chinese vegans and non-vegans alike.The Chinese have been cooking with Tofu since the Han dynasty, 2,000 years ago. Enjoy it crispy and fried, spicy Szechuan-Style, or Kung-Pao style with rice and vegetables.

You Tiao/Dough Sticks

Delicious long golden-brown deep-fried strips of dough served with Soy milk. Just be sure to check what the strips are fried in before tucking in!

Hot pot

The varieties here are infinite. Of course, many varieties of hot pot do contain meat and meat stocks – but there are so many veggie-filled vegan examples to satisfy even the pickiest taste-buds. Get it hot and spicy or keep things mild – it’s up to you! At a hot pot restaurant, you order the ingredients and cook it all yourself in a boiling broth at the table. Make sure to specify that you need vegetable stock, and it becomes a great way to guarantee that no animal-based ingredients managed to sneak in.

Congee

A silky rice porridge that is a breakfast staple in Chinese homes. Have it plain with some side dishes, or add vegetables like mushrooms, edamame, and pak choi. In restaurants, sweet versions are often the safest bet for a Vegan dish.

Noodles

Noodles are a great option, as you can point at what vegetables you would like with them. However, be aware that often the soup they will be served in is Chicken or Beef. If you want to make noodles for yourself, check out this video.

Spring Rolls

A personal favourite of mine, I couldn’t bare to leave them off the list. Crispy, packed with vegetables and dipped into a sweet-chilli sauce is how I like them.

Green Pea Pudding

The only dessert on the list, this traditional sweet pudding is eaten like candy with toothpicks or served with afternoon tea. Also known as Pea Cubes or Pea Jelly Squares.

Want to read more?

For more advice on Veganism in China, check out these bloggers:
Peacefull Dumpling
Liuzhou Laowai
Heart of a Vagabond

Do you have any more recommendations that I left off this list? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

How to haggle in China

News and Travel Editor

Haggling for the first time in China can seem a bit daunting. Remember, it is expected by vendors, so there’s no need to feel awkward or embarrassed. With these tips, you’ll be ready and prepared to hit the markets, just like Hyper-Trypsy in today’s video.

When Can I Haggle?

  • It’s important to know when to haggle and when not to.
  • Haggling is a big part of shopping in China, but it is not acceptable everywhere. You should always barter with street vendors, at open air markets and in small, independent shops.
  • In large shops or chain stores, department stores or supermarkets it is not acceptable to haggle.
  • You cannot usually negotiate on price in restaurants, the only exception is if you are in a large group.

How do I prepare?

  • Before you start haggling, walk around the market/store and do some mental price comparisons.
  • Have a look at different stalls where you can buy similar items – being able to say that you can buy the same thing for less nearby will help you get the price down.
  • Remember that the marked prices may be well above the seller’s actual minimum price.
  • Make sure you’ve got small denomination notes and plenty of change.
  • Set yourself a limit of how much you’re willing to spend

How do I haggle?

  • Don’t be afraid to start low – far below what you’re actually willing to play. The vendor may act insulted, but don’t worry – it’s all part of the drama of the process.
  • Act like you’re not bothered. This is a top tip, the keener you are, the more resistant a seller will be to lower the price. If they think you’re definitely going to take it, they’ll be less inclined to lower the price to tempt you.
  • Don’t be afraid to walk away. If the price is still too high for you, just leave. Hopefully, the seller will call you back to negotiate further. If not, just try somewhere else!
  • Use a calculator to show the vendor how much you are offering if they cannot understand you. Most vendors always have one handy for this exact purpose.
  • What surprised me the first time I was in a small Chinese market was that, in China, people count on their hands differently from in Europe. Have a look at the illustration below to familbbce4c46525b643b425632e30a09b1f6

What do I say?

Knowing a little local language goes a long way and sets you apart from other tourists. Try memorising these four phrases to help you haggle.

  • Duō shǎo qián? – how much money.
  • Jià gé – price, cost.
  • Tài gui le! – too expensive!
  • Pian Yi Dian – Make it cheaper

If you want to see travel and tech blogger HyperTrypsy having a go at haggling for Coco’s Kitchen, check out the video below. If you have any questions or any top tips for haggling in China, let us know in the comments!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAKL3PdXWMc