Sunday is Chinese New Year, and we’re about to enter into the year of the snake. Ancient Chinese wisdom says a Snake in the house is a good omen because it means your family will not starve. The snake zodiac sign symbolizes gratefulness, materialism, mystery and intelligence. Being born into the year of the snake is considered lucky, as tradition says snakes will have bright futures.

It’s a Buddhist tradition that no animal is harmed on the first day of the lunar new year, so this Hunan Vegetable Stir-Fry from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Fire and Spice is perfect for vegans and omnivores alike. In Chinese culture vegetables are a symbol of purification, so they’re often eaten at the start of year for a fresh start. This stir-fry is versatile and can be made by using different vegetables or with the addition of tofu or seitan.


  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or a natural sweetener
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound bok choy, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 4 ounces snow peas, trimmed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced


  1. Soak the red pepper flakes in the wine vinegar in a small bowl for 30 minutes.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the tomato puree, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar, and set aside.
  3. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, bok choy, carrot, and undrained red pepper flakes, and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the snow peas and mushrooms and stir-fry for 3 minutes longer. Add the reserved sauce and cook until heated through.

Serves 4

From Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson. ©2008 Robin Robertson. Used by permission from  Vegan Heritage Press.