Skip the roast beast and cook up lighter and brighter vegetarian holiday recipes for your celebratory feasts during the festive season
I love the holiday season in Hong Kong, and all the dinners, and the celebrations that come with it. However, it wasn’t always like that… I moved to Hong Kong as a vegetarian, decades ago, and holiday meals were a struggle. I was often served a standard pasta dish, along with all the Christmas sides, as my meal. Don’t get me wrong, I love sides but I wanted more than just pasta. So I took matters into my own hands and started cooking a full Christmas vegetarian dinner at home. This tradition was born out of a need, but now my family now looks forward to our favourite vegetarian holiday recipes.
Looking for inspiration for holiday feasts? Check out some of my family’s favourite vegetarian holiday recipes and start cooking! Or, if you’re not interested in making a mess in the kitchen, skip down to my recommendations for vegetarian holiday menus in Hong Kong for dining out.
Dining in: Vegetarian holiday recipes
1. Mulled Wine
No matter your dietary preference, no festive dinner is complete without a few glasses of mulled wine. I start my holiday cooking preparations by simmering a bottle of supermarket red wine with a teaspoon of Asian-five spice powder (which generally combines cinnamon, fennel, star anise, cloves. The fifth spice can be a roulette between ginger, white pepper and Sichuan peppercorn). This is a great spice mix to keep on hand so you are not running around with multiple spice boxes and, even better, it is powdered so no need to strain the mulled wine before serving. Throw in a few orange wedges and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar to sweeten to taste. Cover the pot, let it come to a simmer for a few minutes and you are ready to serve!
Pro tip: If you like it sweet AND spicy, add a few Sichuan peppercorns to the mix!
2. Sweet Potato Casserole + Spark Crispy Chili Oil
This is my family’s favourite dish and we can never have too much of it. It is quite simple and there are several variations you can experiment with. It has sweet elements with the sweet potato and marshmallow, but I like to add some spice to the sweet potato mash to get that perfect bite of sugar, spice and salt! Combine 3-4 boiled and peeled sweet potatoes, with ½ cup brown sugar, a tablespoon of butter, pinch of salt and two tablespoons of Spark Crispy Chili Oil. Use a potato masher/fork to combine it all together and transfer it to a casserole dish. Sprinkle marshmallows on the top to create a layer and then bake it for 12-15 minutes at 180ºC till the marshmallows turn golden brown.
Pro tip: Use mini marshmallows as the smaller size provides more texture, puff and the delicious goey-ness!
3. (Veggie) Pigs in a Blanket
Can I get a hallelujah for the numerous choices of plant-based sausages? I hit up Green Common, which has a wide range of options, to make this dish. I like to make this dish as an appetiser, so I normally cut up the sausage into three pieces and then roll each mini sausage piece in a small square of puff pastry. This appetiser can be made in advance and kept frozen, just bake it for 15-20 minutes at 200ºC in a conventional oven.
Pro tip: If you would like to make this a little fancy, brush some cranberry jelly on the puff pastry before wrapping it around the sausage.
4. Katsu Curry
Katsu Curry is a popular dish that has become a staple at our family Christmas dinners. It is warming, more-ish, vegan, and has all the comforting flavours that you want to enjoy at a holiday meal. A katsu curry cube is super handy and I’ve used it a few times. But while I was formulating recipes for my cookbook, I experimented with making katsu curry from scratch! You’ll be happy to know that I now have a quick and fool-proof recipe in my cookbook, A Spark of Madness.
5. Chocolate ice cream with Spark Crispy Chili Oil
After a long day in the kitchen, I like to take it easy for the dessert course. And who could say no to chocolate ice cream? (The Honeycombers team particularly likes the chocolate flavour from the vegan brand Happy Cow.) For a treat that’s both naughty and nice, try a scoop or two with a drizzle of the Spark Crispy Chili Oil.
Dining out: Vegetarian holiday menus
1. Feather & Bone
Feather & Bone have gone all out to make sure the vegetarians are not missing out on any holiday fun. I’ve personally celebrated a few Christmas Secret Santa meals here and have been impressed with all the little touches—like Christmas crackers on the table—that Feather & Bone add to make the celebrations feel special. Also, not everyone on the table has to opt for the vegetarian meal so it’s a win-win. That said, the vegetarian 12-course family-style sharing menu includes burrata, leek croquettes spinach salad, rigatoni, Brussel sprouts, mash, Christmas pudding and more! Did I mention they also have a sweet free-flow deal for wines and champagne?
Feather & Bone has multiple locations across Hong Kong.
2. The Globe
The Globe is one of Hong Kong’s long standing British pubs and the Christmas roasts have been an integral part of the city’s holiday celebrations. Their Pumpkin and Pecan Roast and Sticky Toffee Pudding is absolutely delicious, and you get to enjoy a British Christmas in Hong Kong.
The Globe, Garley Building, 45-53 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2543 1941
3. Miss Lee
Miss Lee makes sure no one is left behind on Christmas with a meat-free meal that can be enjoyed as 4-course lunch or 7-course dinner, which includes crispy wonton, flat rice noodle rolls, handmade noodles and more.
Read our full review of Miss Lee.
Miss Lee, G/F The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 2881 1811
4. MA…and the seeds of Life
Chef Tina Barrat always comes out strong with her vegan menus and the Christmas lunch menu is no different. Who could resist offering Lobster “Mane” Bisque (made with Lion’s Mane mushrooms), Pan Fried Faux-Gras Risotto (made with morels and truffle), and to finish a Chocolate Log cake.
Check out our interview with Tina Barrat.
Ma…and The Seeds of Life, Shop 11, 1/F, H18 Conet, 23 Graham Street, Central, Hong Kong, p. 6469 4533
For other vegetarian Christmas favourites such as a Clafoutis, Monkey Bread, Pesto Babka, Baked Burrata and more, don’t forget to check out A Spark of Madness cookbook. The cookbook includes 116 Asian recipes with loads of gluten-free and vegan options. For more ideas for vegetarian holiday recipes, follow A Spark of Madness on Instagram or browse through the cookbook at your nearest Bookazine store.