Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vegan Pho with Seitan

Vegan Pho with Seitan

By now, everyone should know what pho is (and banh mi but that'll be a different post in the future). It is either the new(ish) food trend where you live or an old trend going back several years. Wherever it falls on the food trend scale, it is warm, comforting, complex and delicious.

I haven't had vegan pho (or any other Vietnamese food) in three years since I moved from Toronto and I miss it a LOT. Sure, there are restaurants that list "vegetarian" pho, but chances are that the stock is still NOT vegan. So... I steer clear unless it's a vegan or vegetarian restaurant.

Yesterday I couldn't decide what to make for dinner and for some reason, I just wanted pho. Because I can't really get vegan pho here, I had to make it myself. This was the first time making it and it was awesome. My house smelled like a pho restaurant all evening.

I looked at a few different recipes online and saw that they all had a similar formula so I ended up winging it. Some recipes also call for whole cardamom, coriander and fennel, but I just stuck with cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Success! I did deviate a bit from some of the traditional recipes in that I didn't char the onions or strain my broth. I unfortunately did not write down or pay attention to how much I put in of some of the ingredients. I just made it to taste, so here's my blueprint.
  1. Saute some thinly sliced onion, garlic and ginger.
  2. Add water (I think I used 6-8 cups), vegan "beef" bouillon powder (half of what was called for with the amount of water I was using since I was adding soy sauce and salt), cinnamon stick (3"), whole cloves (5), star anise (5), Japanese soy sauce, splash of Bragg's, salt, pepper and sugar. Let that come to a boil and add thinly sliced seitan. I put the cloves and the star anise in a tea ball so it was easy to pull out later. I also added in some sliced mushrooms since I had some kicking around.
  3. Lower heat to a strong simmer and let simmer for about 1 hour uncovered. Take out the cinnamon stick, cloves and star anise. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Add in rice noodles to the soup and cook until noodles are tender.
  5. Mound some noodles in a bowl, ladle the soup on top and garnish.
For the garnish, I only had green onions but I would have added a lime wedge, thai basil and cilantro. No bean sprouts for me though as I'm not too fond of them. I also added a dollop of chili garlic sauce. Yes, I know that you can't really see the soup under all the noodles, but trust me, it's there! I just like a lot of noodles.

It was easy to make and probably not the best vegan pho in the world, but it was so delicious and easy to make. Definitely going to make this again very soon.


Dana said...

I made this years ago and the biggest pain was straining the spices out before serving. I LOVE your idea of using a tea ball. Oh and I topped it with bean sprouts and cilantro. You've inspired me to make it again!

Debra said...

This looks so good!
Debra @ Vegan Family Style

ms. veganorama said...

Thanks Dana and Debra!

gloriafish said...

What? They have vegan pho in Toronto? Where?

ms. veganorama said...

gloriafish, they did at Bo De Duyen (Spadina Ave) when it was a full restaurant. It closed about 2 years ago but has sort of reopened. They are actually in the process of building up an entire restaurant again but with what appears to be a very scaled back menu.

I haven't been there and don't know if it's 100% vegan (it is vegetarian for sure -- probably vegan), but Green Earth Vegetarian on Broadview has pho.

There are rumours that Pho Hung (Spadina Ave) offers vegan pho that isn't on the menu but really, I don't trust that it's vegan.

Having said that, it is so easy to make your own. I've been kicking myself that I didn't make it sooner!

jd said...

I confess: I don't even like seitan. But this photo definitely knocks my socks off!

Consider yourself added to my blogroll, stat! :)

Annie Nguyen said...

OMG. favorite one is here. i loveeee this. Vegan Pho. I was used to make it. and it took me many hours. But now i dont have to. Found this awesome vegan noodle soup called Happy Pho - a delicious Vietnamese noodle soup that's so flavorful and takes 10 mins to cook. I add mushroom, spinach and have a steaming bowl of soup. I came across them at Rainbow Grocery but think you can find them in other Northern California stores
and online at –

Anonymous said...

This looks absolutely delicious! And its what I have been craving! Since I stopped eating meat I haven't had pho in forever. Thank you so much for this recipe! I will definitely have to try it. But quick question - where can I buy vegan "beef" boullion?

ms. veganorama said...

Thanks for the comment! Vegan beef bouillon can usually be found at a health food store but any vegetable bouillon will do.

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