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.
- Saute some thinly sliced onion, garlic and ginger.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add in rice noodles to the soup and cook until noodles are tender.
- Mound some noodles in a bowl, ladle the soup on top and garnish.
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.