Vegan stir-fried julienned vegetables with black sesame seeds Stir-fried julienned vegetables with black sesame seeds

Oyster sauce is my favorite thing for flavoring vegetable stir fries. But Sam the vegetarian does not want to include any animal products in her food. Oyster sauce being made from pureed oyster meat, I had to forego it. No worries though. There’s another way to make a vegetable stir fry tasty without oyster sauce — the trick is to flavor the oil very, very well. With what? A lot of spices.

And I’m not talking heat. Most people think that spicy and hot are the same when it comes to food but they’re really different things. Spices can be hot, earthy, piquant, tangy, pungent or sweet. By choosing a spice variety, or a combination of spice varieties, as a base for a vegetable stir fry, you can cook a very fragrant and tasty dish.

Since all the vegetables are julienned, might as well start with the post about how to julienne. And since lemon zest is listed as an ingredient, it’s best to read about how to zest citruses as well.

I used very common spices — garlic, ginger, bay leaf and peppercorns — to flavor the oil. Feel free to use your own spice melange. Cumin, mustard seeds, lemongrass, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon bark and cardamom are great choices too.

Recipe: Stir-fried julienned vegetables with black sesame seeds


  • 1 tsp. of sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp. of vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • a few slices of ginger
  • peel of half a lemon (in large pieces so you can remove them — see tips)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. of peppercorns
  • 1 c. of julienned capsicum (bell peppers)
  • 1 c. of julienned carrot
  • 2 c. of julienned white cabbage
  • 1 c. of julienned eggplants
  • 1 onion, julienned
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a big pinch of sugar (trust me, you want to add sugar)
  • juice of 1/2 to a whole lemon
  • toasted sesame seeds (black or white, or both, will work; see how to dry toast sesame seeds)


  1. Pour the sesame seed oil and vegetable oil into a wok or frying pan. Add the garlic, ginger, lemon peel, bay leaf and peppercorns. Heat the oil — over the lowest setting of your stove — for about five minutes or until fragrant. Scoop out all the spices and discard.
  2. Turn up the heat to medium-high (no, not high as is usual for stir frying because sesame oil burns fast). Throw in the carrot and capsicum first (they take the longest to cook), sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and stir fry for a minute.
  3. Add the eggplants, sprinkle more salt and pepper, and stir fry for half a minute.
  4. Add the cabbage and onion, sprinkle more salt and pepper, add the sugar, and stir fry for a minute and a half.
  5. Turn off the heat. Drizzle the lemon juice over the vegetables. Stir. Taste. Make adjustments — depending on your preference, you might want to add salt, pepper, sugar or lemon juice, or all of them.
  6. Divide among individual plates (shallow bowls work better, actually), sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve. Stir-fried julienned vegetables with black sesame seeds

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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  1. A says

    There are vegetarian stir-fry sauces/oyster sauces made from mushroom extract in SM Masinag’s grocery. They are very popular for Chinese, we use it to make vegan dishes for Buddhist holidays. You should give it a try! In fact, a good quality “mock” oyster sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee) is better than most cheap local oyster sauce brands.

    • says

      Thanks for the info. I’ll try to find other sources. I’m boycotting all SM establishments.

      I saw a Food Network feature on Lee Kum Kee once and, according to that show, Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce is made with real oysters.

      • A says

        Hahaha, let me correct myself: Lee Kum Kee DOES have “real” oyster sauce (premium line called Pearl River or Pearl Brand) that is likwise favored by big hotels and Chinese restos. Whereas Buddhist families or temples would prefer their Vegetarian Stir0-fry sauce made with “oyster” mushrooms. (The vegan kind is in a green bottle.) Hmmmm, you can try finding them in Ongpin or the Chinese foodshops in Banawe…

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