They said it couldn’t be done!
Ok, ok. ONE person told me it couldn’t be done. In kind of a patronizing way. So I say to that one person: PHBLTTT! In any case, there are Buddhist Vietnamese who have vegan pho once in a while themselves, so this is already a thing.
I am a little sad that I used the last of my flat rice noodles in a spicy coconut soup, so my pho has — ahem– somen noodles in it instead. WHA?? I know, I know. But just look past the noodles! Look at the broth, the cilantro, the chilies instead! We do what we can after all. We do what we can…
Behold, my vegan pho recipe!
Serves 4 small bowls or 2 large bowls
for the broth
6 cups vegetable stock (or 6 cups water, one vegetable boullion cube)
2 inch piece of ginger
2 cloves garlic
6 dried mushrooms (such as shitake)
1 palm-size piece of dried kelp (kombu)
4 tbs quality light soy sauce (light in color, not in sodium)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp rock sugar (or palm sugar or jaggery)
2 star anise
1 inch cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp szechuan peppercorns
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
For the soup
flat rice noodles (Bánh Phở Tươi)
1 red or green chili, sliced thinly
1/2 raw onion, sliced thinly and soaked in water
2 spring onion, sliced thinly
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup bean sprouts
wedge of lime
1) Start the vegan pho broth by charring the onion and ginger. Keep the skin on both and place on a grill over an open flame. Turn the ceiling fan on for this one! No worries if the onion skin lights on fire and floats away as onion ash. Cook the onion and ginger on all sides for about 10 or 15 minutes. Rinse in warm water and rub the blackened skin off. The onion and ginger will be warm and soft and smell amazing. Cut the onion in quarters. Smash the ginger and chop it into a few pieces.
2) In a small frying pan, dry roast the spices (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander and peppercorns) until fragrant.
3) Bring the 6 cups of veggie stock to boil and adding the garlic, kelp, charred onion and ginger, dried mushrooms, and spices, soy sauce, salt and rock sugar.
4) Simmer about 20 minutes. Strain all the vegetables and whole spices from the broth, but reserve the mushrooms.
5) While the broth is simmering, prepare the noodles and soup toppings.
6) For the flat rice noodles (Bánh Phở Tươi), you can use dried or fresh (look for them in the refridgerated section of Asian grocery). Cook the noodles according to the instructions, then set aside.
7) Wash and chop all the fresh vegetables, such as cilantro, spring onion, raw white onion, mushrooms, bean sprouts, chilies and wedge of lime.
8) When the broth is ready and strained, return it to the heat and bring to a simmer again. Get your bowls, noodles and veg all ready. Use a large spoon strainer to dip a serving of the noodles into the hot broth to reheat, then place the (now hot) noodles into the bowl. Heat the tofu, mushrooms and bean sprouts this way too if you like.
9) Top the hot noodles with plenty of broth, the vegetables (cilantro, onion, chilies, etc) and a wedge of lime. Repeat for as many bowls as you are making.