Gluten Vegetarian Char Siu (素叉烧)



Vegetarians like all other human beings need protein to grow.. There are a few sources of protein in Chinese vegetarian foods including those  from the soy protein, wheat glutens , nuts and etc..


An Indonesian member once shared her experience of her kid whom unfortunately is allergy to meat and diary products. She is seriously under weight and doctors diagnosed her as malnutrition. Her kid is two years old and she had learnt by herself to make wheat gluten so as to supplement her kid’s protein requirement. She successfully churn out a lot of Indonesian gluten dishes and help her kid to grow healthily.. I hope this example will serve to convince why wheat gluten is important in a vegetarian diet..


Vegetarian meat alike dishes are mostly prepared from 2-3 main sources. One is wheat gluten, another is soy based products and others like konnyaku. Assuming for wheat gluten products, all are presented in its simplest form, it will just be a round chewy ball of gluten being served every meal and every where be it in restaurant or household.


However, if it was cooked differently, seasoned differently, shaped differently, the original wheat gluten will need a name to differentiate them. In my humble opinion, one of the easiest way to name  different wheat gluten is to follow the name of non vegetarian meat dishes. When a non vegetarian consumer read the label, they can roughly imagine the taste of these mock meats. I am explaining this because many friends are criticizing and trying to understand why should these gluten used names such as mock char siu, mock duck, mock chicken etc.… Reasons are simple, different seasoning, different shape and different taste shall be called in  different name to facilitate food identification.


I believed gluten char siu is one of the most common mock meat in the market and I have therefore decided to try out and share the recipes with readers. If there is no compulsory obligation to eat gluten char siu, I will advise you to eat the real char siu instead. lol.


Mock char siu does not really resemble real char siu though the taste is pretty close but without the meat taste. The texture can be more chewy than meat because it is made of gluten.. I do not think most vegetarian eat mock char siu perceived it as a piece of meat or it looked like the real char siu, they are happy to eat it because of its unique texture and flavourful gluten. It give them another choice of dishes in the dinner table.


Preparation of this char siu are not difficult if you get the seasonings correct. To prepare this char siu, you will need to learn the making of wheat gluten which you can learn from this post: Wheat Gluten (Mian Jin, 面筋, Seitan, Mi Chiya).


I am happy with this adventure though the shaping need to be improved. The wheat gluten strip are too thin and hence when it was cut, it become too small a piece. I will leave this to the reader to improve. on it.



Recipe adapted from: 素叉烧

Servings : About 300 grams of gluten char siu



  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (白糖)
  • 2 tablespoons of light soya sauce (酱清)
  • 1 tablespoon Vegetarian hoisin sauce (I have omitted as I can’t get hold of it) 
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce (素耗油)
  • 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce (黑酱油)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce (番茄酱)
  • 1 tablespoon of red yeast rice powder (红曲粉)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of five spice powder (五香粉)
  • Dashes of white pepper (胡椒粉)



PicMonkey Collage1

  • Cut the wheat gluten into 3 big stripes with about 100 grams each.  For homemade wheat gluten, please refer here: Wheat Gluten (Mian Jin, 面筋, Seitan, Mi Chiya). . Plait the wheat gluten like hair plating and seal both ends. The main purpose of this step is to shape the wheat gluten such that it look like lean meat.

  • Get ready a pot of hot boiling water, boil the gluten for about 25-30 minutes until the gluten is cooked or floated upwards.  Let is cooled completely or soaked in some cold water before proceeding to the next step. Prior to the marinating, open up the wheat gluten . If the wheat gluten stuck together, use a scissor to cut following the plaiting pattern.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • Mix all the seasoning ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Add the wheat gluten and let it marinate preferably overnight in the fridge.

 PicMonkey Collage3

  • Heat up a pot of hot oil, deep fry the marinated wheat gluten for 5-10 minutes or until the external is set. Deep frying is use to enhance the flavour of the gluten. Air fryer can also be used. Drain and cool completely before cutting into desired sizes.

  • For the marinating liquid, heat up a frying pan and add a tablespoon of oil. Add the marinating sauce, bring to boil and use high heat to boil until the sauce thickens. The sauce can be used in Chee Cheong Fun or drizzle over the char siu or use for noodle dishes.



Please do not get me wrong that i am trying to propagate certain religious beliefs. I am having a temporary vegetarian diet, I like to eat this and therefore I blogged this as simple as that. I found there are very few English recipes on Chinese vegetarian dishes and that is also one of the prime reason that prompted me to share with readers. Whether or not there are readers who try is irrelevant and unimportant.  Such recipe are precious and I will need to keep a record in my blog for those who may be interested. :Lastly, remember that vegetarian Char siu can also be prepared from soy bean products , therefore, in your first attempt, do not place too high emphasis on the outcome.. I don’t and I am happy and let’s learn together to cook more  delicious and healthier vegetarian dishes.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


food bloggers[4]

Food paradize[8]



  • If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 2600 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD.


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