On 初一 or day 1 of Chinese New Year (CNY), it is a common tradition for most families to go vegetarian for the day. This practice originates from the Buddhist belief that vegetables will purify and cleanse the body and soul for the rest of the year! Whether your family follows this tradition or not, Veteran home cook Cheng Geck Chau’s Vegetarian Kong Bak Bao recipe is an equally delicious but healthier variation that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians will enjoy.
The Vegetarian Kong Bak Bao is layered with varying textures and bound together with the savoury mild braise sauce. As we know, pork belly has 2 layers of texture - the tender and lean meat and the soft and melt-in-your-mouth fat. To replicate that, Mdm Cheng has cleverly substituted it with yam (lean meat) and beancurd (fat). She have specifically chosen China Yam because it has a natural fragrance and a powdery after-bite.
For the beancurd, pressed tofu was used instead of tau kwa as it is softer and suitable for the elderly and children to eat. Its texture also goes better with the yam and bun. As CNY is about families coming together, having dishes that are inclusive of different family members’ diets makes them feel welcome and strengthens your family’s bonds. The pressed tofu’s lighter taste and texture also make the dish less filling and allow more stomach space for other dishes and snacks on the CNY table!
This CNY vegetarian recipe is easy to prepare as there is no meat to be handled and you will eat better with these natural ingredients. With the 8% GST hike, it is definitely more cost-effective to cook at home too. As of January 2023, this Vegetarian Kong Bak Bao recipe will cost around SGD $13, serving up to 10 people.
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For a healthy yet indulgent dish bursting with flavour and texture, include the Vegetarian Kong Bak Bao in your CNY menu this year!