An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Benxinzhai shushi pu 本心齋疏食譜

Mar 14, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Benxinzhai shushi pu 本心齋疏食譜 is a vegetarian recipe book from the Song period 宋 (960-1279). In ancient times, the character shu 疏 "distant" was used interchangeably with the word shu 蔬 "vegetables". Concerning the author, Chen Dashou 陳達叟, this is little biographical information, except that he was from Qingzhang 清漳 (now Feixiang 肥鄉, Hebei).

The book includes recipes for various dishes such as pulse (chuo shu 啜菽), vegetable soups (gengcai 羹菜), rice dumplings (fenci 粉糍), leek dumplings (jianjiu 薦韭), butterfly noodles (yilai 貽來), yam dishes (yuyan 玉延), various desserts like lychee or longans (qiongzhu 瓊珠), steamed buns (yuzhuan 玉磚), salted or pickled dishes (yinji 銀齏), water dumplings (shuituan 水團), bamboo shoots (yuban 玉版), lotus roots (xue'ou 雪藕), radish (tusu 土酥), steamed chestnuts (chuili 炊栗), stewed taro (weiyu 煨芋), wolfberry dishes (caiqi 采杞), sweet water chestnuts (ganqi 甘薺), green bean vermicelli (lüfen 綠粉), mushrooms (zizhi 紫芝), and white rice (baican 白粲), totaling 20 items.

For each item, the author first introduces the method of preparation, cooking methods, or special features, and then summarizes the characteristic taste of this vegetarian dish in the lyrical shape of praises (zan 贊). This style of writing is concise, similar to songs, with a clear focus and easy to recite and remember. In the preface and postscript of the book, it is mentioned that these vegetarian dishes are inspired by a mind free from worldly desires. Throughout the recipes, the book repeatedly emphasizes the idea of vegetarianism as an expression of purity and transcendence beyond worldly concerns.

The book is included in the series Baichuan xuehai 百川學海, Shuofu 說郛 (Wanweishantang editon 宛委山堂本) and Chongshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Lü Jitang 呂繼棠 (1995). "Benxinzhai shushi pu 本心齋疏食譜", in Zhongguo pengren baike quanshu 中國烹飪百科全書 (Beijing: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 39.
蜀漢 (221-263)