Simple Chinese Vegetarian Stock (素上汤)


Cantonese vegetarian superior stock is… perhaps surprisingly simple to whip up. This – or a stock like it – is foundational in Chinese Buddhist cuisine… which we’ll do a deep dive into one day, promise (hey, pork IS getting expensive here, so maybe soon lol).

This type of vegetarian stock relies on three things: dried mushrooms (for flavor), dried soybeans (for depth), and shelled chestnuts (for body).

Written recipe is over here on Reddit:

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Outro Music: “Add And” by Broke For Free

Learn how to cook real deal, authentic Chinese food! We post recipes every Tuesday (unless we happen to be travelling) 🙂

We’re Steph and Chris – a food-obsessed couple that lives in Shunde, China. Steph is from Guangzhou and loves cooking food from throughout China – you’ll usually be watching her behind the wok. Chris is a long-term expat from America that’s been living in China and loving it for the last eleven years – you’ll be listening to his explanations and recipe details, and doing some cooking at times as well.

This channel is all about learning how to cook the same taste that you’d get in China. Our goal for each video is to give you a recipe that would at least get you close to what’s made by some of our favorite restaurants here. Because of that, our recipes are no-holds-barred Chinese when it comes to style and ingredients – but feel free to ask for tips about adaptations and sourcing too!





  1. Hey guys, a few notes:

    1. Something I forgot in the narration: I also added ~20 white peppercorns in there. It's not mandatory or anything (because as Steph said, the idea is that this IS mostly unseasoned), but definitely toss some in if it's convenient.

    2. For Cantonese Vegetarian Superior stock, you also see this with soyabean sprouts in place for soybeans. If you pushed us, I think we'd prefer soy bean sprouts over the soybeans themselves, but both totally wok. We used soybeans as (1) they're more edible after this whole process (if munching on soybean sprouts they're best quickly blanched) and (2) they're much more available abroad.

    3. Another optional ingredient that you might've seen in the background at 0:41 is dried red dates… they can be nice too, but in our opinion they can make the stock a bit overly sweet (and thus less versatile). But if you have some handy, hey, there's no harm in tossing one or two in – might negate the need for seasoning with rock sugar at the end.

    4. For any others carnivores out there, this is also a nice stock to whip up because it's cheap and dirt simple. Want to make it non-veg? Toss in ~40g of Jinhua ham (Iberico ham or an unsmoked country ham being a good sub), and optionally a couple dried scallops. Full disclosure that that's kinda a personal riff, but it's damn good.

    5. So what did we do with all that leftover soybean/mushroom/chestnut? This was random and a weird fusion-y concoction of mine, but to give you an idea… first I fried some diced Jinhua ham, smashed garlic ginger & scallion whites, and the bottom dregs of our almost gone XO-sauce bottle in lard… then added flour to that (~6 tbsp?) as if I was making a country gravy. Then once the roux was blonde added all those cooked ingredients… plus Shaoxing, Light Soy sauce, Dark soy sauce, water, some slab sugar, & a bit of our vegetarian stock. Let it bubble uncovered til thickened, ~30 minutes. Seasoned with MSG, a little fish sauce, and a touch of Chingkiang vinegar (mostly because I slightly overdid the slab sugar so it was a touch too sweet, needed balance). It was a little too thin so I also hit it with a touch of slurry. Served with some crusty white bread that Steph just whipped up. I'll see if I can dig up a pic, it was way more delicious than it had any right to be.

    6. We do want to do a dive into Chinese Buddhist cuisine – it's fascinating. It's almost the opposite of Indian veg food – lots of mock meat. And while some might turn their nose up at 'mock meat' in the West, what that means is… really fun and interesting techniques.

    I know this video was a short one – we've also got a video on Cantonese smothered tofu coming up in a couple days. We were actually going to release the two videos simultaneously, but we felt it might be smarter to release that one after the Halloween holiday's done 🙂 Planning for a Saturday (our time).

  2. Hey guys have you ever thought given the best Chinese cuisine channel in English you guys can also make these authentic recipes into vegetarian recipes so that others can also make it , you guys can write a book on your vegan interpretation of these recipes. You guys would do such a great favour to all the current vegans and all others who would want to be vegans. kindly think about it

  3. This is a great recipe!! I made a complete vegan meal for my son using this for a base for your hot and sour soup recipe as well as Chuanchuan Xiang with vegan skewers (fried tofu was the favorite). Also made some Hubei fried corn as an afterthought (without egg). Used canned corn, and it was also a big hit. The star of the show was the Mapo Tofu, made with Beyond Meat ground crumbles, and homemade Sichuan Chili OIl, Sourced Caiziyou and Er Jing Tao chilies from the Mala Market, then Facing heaven Chilis and good Pixian Bean paste from posharpstore. Thank you so much for your content, the meal was a big hit!!!

  4. SUGGESTION: My recently sourcing efforts prompted the following suggestion – how about an episode that focuses exclusively on sourcing tips for various staple items … for both locals and a few major markets outside of china ?

    I bet a lot of your subs would click on and upvote something like that. I know I'd upvote it harder a Shark hitting a hooked marlin, or a crazed Protohuman beating a tapir skull in 2001: A Space. 😁 Odyssey.

  5. Another thing to do with the leftovers: cooked rice or buckwheat or even potato, fried mixture of onions, garlic, carrot with an option to even add walnut. Blend it all or mince in a meat grinder. Form into cutlets and bake in oven 180*С for 40 minutes. Or even fry it covered with breadcrumbs.

  6. I always make their recipes first, then create my own abominations. I respect the meticulously and incrementally (sometimes through several generations) crafted traditional recipes, but I actually prefer my own abominations more at times. Creating your own dishes and freeing yourself from recipes is an amazing feeling, especially when you make something truly unique and tasty, and share your creations with your family and friends.

    This channel is definitely one of the most important cooking channels on Youtube. China has always been isolated (to an extent) geographically, politically, culturally, etc… from the west for centuries. It's disappointing to see that a lot of the cooking methods and traditions in this channel are lost in Chinese families living in the west for just one generation. Thousands of home kitchens have been greatly enhanced because of this channel, and I wish there was a true "Cooking Demystified" channel for every cuisine in the world. I'm grateful for this channel :))))) -> those are the chins I have accrued since watching my first video from this channel

  7. I'm trying this over the weekend! I have never found or made a really good veg stock. It's always~insipid~I guess is the best word. It lacks the richness of meat stock.
    This recipe may just be what I'm looking for, thanks to you both.
    I'm still loving your channel Steph and Chris! And congratulations on your move and over 220K subs.
    😂 I feel like a proud muma who's child has grown up to be something wonderful. I'll enjoy it for as long as you keep making these.
    Jenn 🇨🇦

  8. I'd love to see a video where you apply a lot of the logic you teach in these specific recipes to talk about what people eat when they're just throwing things together. What are the nameless pantry meals everyone makes on Wednesdays?

  9. Awesome! Can you please share the Chinese Buddhist recipes when convenient? Your mapo tofu is the only 'authentic' recipe that I know (and the best thing I can cook!) that allows me to cook vegan and avoid the five pungent herbs of Chan.

    Also a shout out to others watching this, can you recommend other authentic dishes which would fit the bill?

  10. Thanks for the detail about the stock cooking at a higher temp than Western stocks.
    Avoiding a boil for stocks is all but beaten into us in culinary school here. So, it's a hard habit to avoid.
    I even worked in a Chinese style restaurant while going to school. It's owned by a Chinese born immigrant who is something of a local hero.
    I prepped a lot of stock there. But ours was a bone based chicken stock which was oddly missing celery.
    I was told that Chinese people don't really like the green color it gives to the stock. It's off-putting.
    Not sure how ubiquitous this feeling is in the Chinese culture, but I wonder what you think?

  11. I just love your channel. Thank you so much for this broth recipe. Due to extreme food allergies, I'm a gluten-free vegan. Authentic Chinese food is one of my absolute favorite foods to make. I'm pretty good at subbing foods so I can make recipes to fit my allergies, but this broth will help make it super easy. I saw the jujube when you were talking about the additional straw mushroom. Is this also an ingredient you can add for variation of flavor, or were they just incidentally in the frame? Thanks again.

  12. I'm a vegetarian and often disappointed by veggie broths & stocks (with the exception of kombu or shitake dashi which are legit wonderful).

    This sounds kinda exactly like what I'm wanting out of such; I've got to try this soon!
    Thanks so much for sharing these, and I'd be very interested in any other veggie broths/stocks you think would be worth featuring.