This guide to vegetarian food is an easy to use reference guide. It offers an accessible introduction to the wide variety of foods available to those who either follow a vegetarian diet or are considering doing so. There are entries for fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, which provide information on choose and nutritional value and how to prepare each food.
Bamboo Shoots and Water Chestnuts – The two queens among mixers are bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. They perform as catalysts, marrying the flavors of anything they are combined with, while not having too much taste of their own. It is their texture that is perfect. Bamboo shoots do especially well in stir-fried mixtures (ch ao) or in stews (mun). Water chestnut, cut in slices, is a desirable ingredient in chop suey making the difference, in fact, between a mediocre vegetable dish and one that is very fine. Minced water chestnut is excellent in meatballs and even better combined with minced shrimp.
Chinese Dried Mushrooms (and to a large extent fresh ones) come next; for, like the bamboo shoot, they mix well with, almost anything in chao, mun, and jeng (steamed) dishes. Incidentally, European dried mushrooms may be used in place of Chinese or Japanese ones; but our domestic fresh mushrooms, to the Oriental taste, are lacking in flavor.
French beans, snow peas, green pepper, broccoli, onion, asparagus tips, kohlrabi, and cabbage do well as accessories in ch ao dishes.
Peas are a good ingredient with ch ao-style diced meat and in fried rice (chow fan).Almonds, with bamboo shoots and cubed mushrooms, are a prime ingredient with diced chicken. Green peas may be added for color.
Turnip and eggplant each make an excellent addition to stews of meat or of fish such as carp, turbot, halibut, and cod. Soybean curd is another very good ingredient in fish stews.
Bean sprouts are essential in chop suey and chow mein, and do equally well with any meat cut in thin slices or in fine strips and stir-fried.
Onions, like bean sprouts, are essential in chop suey and good in ch ao dishes with beef, mutton, lamb, pork, or veal thinly sliced or in strips.
Pickled gai Choy, the mustard plant, is most appetizing with fine strips of beef, stir-fried.