Vegan Crispy Duck Pancakes (made with mushrooms)
You don’t have to miss out on Crispy Duck Pancakes, just because you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. These Vegan Crispy Duck Pancakes are made with mushrooms. Find out more below.
When we visited China back in 2017 I was pleasantly surprised with how much vegetarian (and even vegan food) was available. The key to finding veggie food was to look for restaurants near Buddhist temples. A Chinese Buddhist’s diet is vegetarian as its based on the Dharmic concept of ‘ahimsa‘ which means ‘non-violence’. Chinese Buddhist run restaurants have a fantastic range of dishes on the menu often including mock duck and other fake meats.
The art of making vegetarian food look like meat goes back hundreds of years in Chinese history. Wheat gluten, called miàn jīn (面筋, or “dough tendon”) is thought to have originated in ancient China as a meat substitute for Buddhists and Chinese emperors who would eat a vegetarian diet at certain times of the year. These days we call mock meat, that has been made from vital wheat gluten, “seitan”.
I did consider making these Vegan Crispy Duck Pancakes with seitan but it is a lengthy process and lots of people don’t like eating such realistic meat substitutes. So, I made my duck substitute with mushrooms instead!
You can make this dish with whatever mushrooms you have to hand but there are certain varieties that I think work perfectly. The mushroom varieties I recommend are: shiitake mushroom, wood ear, oyster mushrooms, and enoki mushrooms. The reason they work well is because of their shape and texture. They shred well, have frilly bits that crispy up nicely and they have a meaty texture too.
If you live near an Asian supermarket you should be able to buy a good range of mushrooms. Some of the larger supermarkets in the UK will do “exotic” mushrooms selections too. If you’re struggling to find any then you can purchase them online from Farmdrop. Note: this is an affiliate link meaning I earn if you place an order. But don’t worry, I am only recommending them because I think they are awesome!
Preparing your vegetables
Whether you use duck or mushrooms, these pancakes are usually served with spring onion and cucumber that has been thinly sliced. You might sometimes see this technique referred to as “julienne”. The “julienne” cut is actually a traditional French technique.
As with many traditional French cooking techniques there’s the right way, then there’s the easy way… If you julienne something using the traditional method you need to cut the vegetable into a square before uniformly cutting it into thin planks and then thin matchstick shapes. The “easy” method, or shortcut, is to cut the vegetables thinly, stacking these slices up and and then cutting them into thin strips. This is exactly how I slice my cucumber for these Vegan Crispy Duck Pancakes.
I learnt the trick to cutting spring onions really thin at The School of Wok in London. First you top and tail the spring onion. then you cut it i half length ways. With the inside of the spring onion facing up, you then start cutting it in thin strips, rolling the spring onion open as you go.
As with any fiddly knife techniques, make sure you have a sharp knife, keep your fingers away from the blade and go nice and slow. There’s no point in rushing.
Chinese Steamed Pancakes from scratch
If you want to take your meal to the next level then why not make the steamed pancakes from scratch too!
Vegan Crispy “Duck” Pancakes (made with mushrooms)
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C / 392F / gas mark 6.
- Prepare the mushrooms by removing the stalks from the caps. Slice the caps and then shred the stalks using two forks.
- Add the mushrooms to a bowl along with the sesame oil and Chinese five spice. Toss until the mushrooms are completely coated.
- Spread the mushrooms over a baking tray and place in the centre of the oven; roast for 30 minutes or until crispy.
- Serve with the Chinese pancakes (prepared according to the packets instructions unless you've made your own), the thinly sliced cucumber and spring onions and the hoisin sauce.
More Chinese inspired recipes
The best thing about the Chinese recipes listed below? They’re all plant based!
If you want to try more Asian style recipes then check out my Global Recipe Archive.