Sunday, May 1, 2011

Vegan Pho With Tofu and Garnishes

Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of a very flavorful broth usually made from beef. Thanks to a generous co-worker who provided me with a recipe and some ingredients, I made a vegan version.

A quick note: I didn't have a lot of whole spices, so I subbed ground. I would not necessarily recommend this but it still worked out great.

Recipe: Reposted from, with some changes in directions by me as well as substitutes in bold and italics
1 small unpeeled onion, quartered -- I used an onion that was about 91g
2 unpeeled shallots, halved
8 garlic cloves, halved -- I peeled these even though the recipe didn't specify
Ginger, coarsely sliced -- I wound up using about 1/8 of ground ginger because I did not have fresh ginger. I would recommend 1 inch of fresh ginger.
2 [3 inch] cinnamon sticks -- Again, I only had ground, so I used 1t ground cinnamon
2 star anise pods -- I subbed 1t ground star anise
4 cloves -- I subbed 1t ground cloves
8c clear veg stock
3T Soy Sauce
salt, to taste

1lb Rice Noodles
8oz fried tofu or cooked seitan
6 scallions, thinly sliced
1.5c bean sprouts
1 lime, sliced into wedges
basil or mint or cilantro (or all of them); a big handful left whole
hoisin sauce, to taste
sriracha chili sauce, to taste

1. In a large pot, heat to medium-high heat and dry roast onion, shallots, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves. Stir occasionally until vegetables begin to char. I would recommend leaving the spices out until the vegetables start to char and then adding the spices in. I burned a few spices before the vegetables could char, but the broth still tasted great in the end. Prep the other vegetables/garnishes during this time as well.

2. Add the veg stock and soy sauce, bring to boil. Then lower heat to simmer, cover for 20-25 minutes. Start another pot boiling to cook the rice noodles.

3. Strain broth into a clean pot and discard the solids. Taste and add salt if necessary, set aside. Check noodles and drain them, rinsing thoroughly. Make a plate for the garnishes. I set mine up into little bowls for some items and larger items just on a plate, like bean noodles and chopped bok choy.

4. Put noodles into bowls; ladle the broth over the noodles. Garnish as you see fit. Enjoy.

The broth is the key along with a bunch of garnishes to really punch up the flavors. Fresh herbs and bean sprouts along with lime juice and soy sauce makes for a fantastic meal. I also added some fried tofu, but mock duck or other faux meats would work great as well.

Above is a photo of my garnish plate: bean sprouts, sliced jalapenos, cilantro, scallions, basil, and chopped bok choy are the ones I had around.

Below is my soup bowl, fixed up with everything. Rice noodles [I used larger flat rice noodles rather than the vermicelli style I usually get] with the broth ladled over it and then I topped mine with sautéed mushrooms, fried tofu, and all of the fixin's from the garnish plate along with some lime juice and shoyu.

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