Friday, April 29, 2011

Vegetarian Pho

I've been wanting to try making pho at home for a loooong time but had some fears. What if the broth wasn't right?! What things should I add?! One day when I was feeling brave, we went on a mission to the large Asian grocery store here. I had to find fresh pho noodles, mushroom balls, maybe some sort of special tofu, and a fun leafy green. (I love the variety of greens at Asian grocery stores - my favourite is pea tips, though we ended up trying pea shoots in the pho.)

This is just a simple bowl of vegetarian pho, but the feeling of accomplishment and excitement made it a really happy and magical experience. Sometimes I can get way too excited about food. I haven't had pho in a really long time, so I wasn't sure how "accurate" the broth was (though I knew it was amazing), but E said that it tasted like pho should. Pho success! I got the recipe from Leng, and then modified it a bit according to what we had. So I've mostly kept her original recipe and written in my notes.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Thai Coconut Corn Stew
Pad Thai
"The" Peanut Sauce
Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan
Soba Noodles with Zucchini Ribbons

Leng and Long’s Pho
Adapted from A Fat Cat Created A Vegetarian

Serves 2

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms, any kind will do
8 cups of vegetable broth
3-5 star anise pods
1 tsp of whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 Tbsp. of vegetarian fish sauce (It would still taste fine if you don’t have this) (Ashley note: I think I added a bit of soy sauce because I didn't have vegetarian fish sauce.)
Ginger, just cut off a small “leg” the sizes vary all the time. Cut piece in half (Ashley note: I used 1 tbsp minced ginger.)
1/2 pound of extra firm tofu, cubed
Mushroom balls, optional
16 oz package of fresh pho noodles
2 to 3 big handfuls of leafy greens (ie. spinach, pea tips)

Topping plate:
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/4 small yellow onion, very thinly sliced
Slices of green onions
Mint & basil sprigs
Jalapeno slices
Mung bean sprouts
Black pepper, hoisin & Sriracha hot sauce
(Ashley note: We only added lime, yellow onion and hot sauce.)

Heat oil in a large saucepan on high heat, add chopped onions and mushrooms. Stir. Cook for 5-10 minutes.

Add vegetable broth, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, vegetarian fish sauce and ginger. Stir. Bring broth to a boil. Add tofu cubes & mushroom balls. Bring to a boil. While soup is coming to a boil distribute each large serving bowl with an even amount of pho noodles. About a handful for each person, you’re not going to use the whole package. (Ashley note: We used 1/2 the package for the 2 of us.) These noodles are super long, but do not cut them.

Once soup comes to a boil turn off heat, remove star anise and ginger pieces (if not using minced ginger). Ladle soup directly onto noodles in prepared bowls. Serve with topping plate and sauces. Serve hot!

Note: Cover the noodles in your bowl completely, so that it will not become soggy as you eat it.


Chucky said...

Thanks Ashley! I love Pho and this soups both looks and sounds incredibly delicious.

janet said...

This looks great, Ashley! pea shoots, yum!!

Did you go to T&T? Gosh, I love their selection of Asian veggies... I still have no clue what to do with half of them, but would love to explore them one-by-one. :)

Johanna GGG said...

oh I am excited too - I have been wanting to try pho but it just seems too much work - I think it just a way of cooking I am unfamiliar with but I love it and it is so hard to find a veg version in a cafe - this looks lovely but I have not come across mushroom balls before - can you tell me what they are?

Joanne said...

Your pho looks and sounds delicious! And so long as you liked it, that's good enough for me. I feel like pho is so simple that it's almost harder to get right if that makes sense.

Melissa said...

Can I ask where you found the mushroom balls? I've never seen them, but I'd loe to try this.

Anonymous said...

I looked at the photos and was wondering what balls those were; since they're ususually chicken or beef. MUSHROOM BALLS! I love it! I wish we had it around here. It's always meaty here.

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

I only recently tried pho for the 1st time when my friend took me to a good place with an excellent veggie version including seitan. So yummy. Will def have to try this at home.

kickpleat said...

I love pho and I like that you used star anise. Yum!

Dana said...

Pho is one of my very favorite things to eat in the entire world. I have tried making it several times, but it never lives up to my expectations. This looks terrific! Tons of flavor in that broth!