Vegan Pho that is actually as good as the beefy original

August 6th 2013

I think if I was on death row and had to pick my last meal, it would be Pho. Traditionally a long simmered, complicated, meat a thon, it is AWESOME(Imagine that last sentence spoken in Oprah’s voice for full impact)! I usually order the #2…that’s basically the whole kitchen sink without the meatballs….never developed a taste for those. So it’s full of tripe, tendon, and the whole animal, which I think is great, waste not want not. I have done a chicken version and now this is a plant based version. Pho is all about the broth….that being said, a vegan version could pose a challenge, the vegetarian option at my local pho hut, is chicken broth based…haha! So I have been given a challenge….I researched, I shopped, read some “easy” recipes, that being said, I came up with my own, and even cooked some leeks, shitake, and rutabaga, in the same fashion as the meat, to add to the richness and mouth feel. This isn’t really simple nor easy, but the best things in life don’t come easy!
You will need for the broth
2 shallots, charred on the outside in a hot pan
3 inch piece of ginger, charred on the outside in a hot pan
1 stem lemon grass, smashed
1 handful dried porcini mushroom
8 shitake mushroom, stems removed and set aside
1 leek, green part removed and rinsed well, leave the white part whole
2 carrots, I used the stems as well since mine had them.
2 to 4 cloves of garlic, smashed, I used an amazing heirloom variety called “Russian Red” that is incredibly pungent, so I only used two
1 rib of celery
The stems from a bunch of purple radishes, I added these because I am going to use raw radish on top and the leaves as a garnish, totally my take and totally optional.
Black pepper and salt to taste
3 tbsp. Bragg’s liquid aminos in place of fish sauce.
1 tbsp. Mrs. Dash, to replace MSG.
10 cups of water
In a stock pot combine all the ingredients except Braggs, bring to a simmer over medium high heat, reduce heat and cook 1 hour. Remove shitake caps, the white part of leek, rutabaga, slice, and set aside to top each bowl. Strain broth and return to pan over low heat, add Braggs, check salt level, add additional if needed, I am trying to avoid over salting things, plus your guests can add their own addition to their own bowls after it is served. Leave in pot on low while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
Hoisin marinated baked tofu
Hoisin is a traditional condiment for Pho, so it was a no brainer for me to add it to my baked tofu for topping our soup.
You will need
1 lb. Firm tofu, drained and weighted so you can remove as much water as possible.
1 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
1 tsp. Bragg’s
1 tbsp. sesame seeds, I used black and white to jazz it up a bit
Pre-heat oven to 375, slice your tofu into four slices, rub hoisin and bragg’s on to each piece, place on a parchment lined sheet pan, bake 30 minutes. Use 1 piece of tofu, sliced, for each bowl.
8 oz brown rice noodles, I used Annie Chun’s
In a pot of boiling water, add noodles, cook 5 minutes, drain, and rinse with cold water, portion into 4 bowls. Top your bowls with some sliced onion, broth, veggies from broth, tofu, and let everyone pic their own toppins’
The classic are basil, cilantro, mung bean sprouts, limes, jalapeños or serranos.
You can also use sciracha, chili paste, hoisin, or whatever you like to season to taste, let everyone do their own! A fun and interactive meal!