Traditionally Pho is made with either beef or chicken, however I kept this vegetarian by using fresh tofu. The Asian supermarket stocks locally made tofu, which has a great texture and soaks up flavours much better than the vac-packed stuff you can get from health food shops.
The way a Pho is served, everything else alongside the broth is considered to be a garnish. A traditional Pho, being made from meat stock and fish sauce, is cooked for 6 hours or more. This is to get all of the flavour from the bones. To recreate this flavour in a vegetarian broth you char the spices. The broth is actually quite easy, you just need to have the patience to let it intensify over time.
Vietnamese Tofu Pho Stock
Serves 2-3 – 1 hour prep and cooking time
- 2 Star Anise
- 1 Teaspoon of Coriander Seeds
- 3 or 4 cloves
- 1 Teaspoon of 5 Spice
- 1 Teaspoon of Ground White Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon of Whole Black Pepper Corns
- 1 Stick Fresh Lemongrass
- 1 Stick of Cinammon
- 2 Litres of good quality stock
- 3 cloves of Garlic
- 3cm Fresh Ginger
- 5 Dried Shitake Mushrooms
- All of the Off-cuts from the Vegetables used for Garnish
- 2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
- Place all of the dry spices in a pan, dry fry them over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until the aroma of toasting spices fills the kitchen stirring occasionally so the spices don’t stick and burn.
- With a pair of tongs, blacken the garlic, the galangal, the turmeric root and the ginger root over a naked flame using your gas hob or a cooks flambé torch. If you do not have access to a flame, omit this stage.
- Roughly chop the garlic and roots, bash the lemongrass and add them to the spice mix.
- Add the stock, the mushrooms, the soy sauce and all of the vegetable off cuts to the spice mix.
- Place a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for about an hour.
- Using a masher, mash the roots, spices mushrooms and vegetables to squeeze out all of the flavours. The broth should turn a deeper colour.
- Pour the broth into another pan through a sieve to remove the spices etc.
- You should be left with a clear broth deep in colour and flavour. Set aside.
- 250g Fresh Firm Tofu
- 1tbsp Organic Virgin Coconut oil
- Chop the tofu into 1 inch cubes.
- Heat the coconut oil in a non-stock frying pan over a medium heat and add the tofu.
- Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tofu should be golden on the outside and soft in the middle.
You can use whatever you have to hand here. I used the following.
- 1 carrot, julienned
- Large handful Choy Sum/Pak Choi
- Handful Fresh Coriander
- Handful Fresh Sweet Thai Basil (can substitute basil)
- 4-5 Chives
- 1 Birds Eye Chilli
- Chive and Basil flowers for garnish
- Noodles (I used wholewheat rice vermicelli noodles)
- 1 Lime
- Cook your noodles to the cooking guidelines
- Arrange the noodles, tofu, herbs and vegetables in 2 serving bowls
- Ladle the hot broth over the garnishes. The broth will gently heat and cook the vegetables, creating a very fresh tasting very aromatic soup.
- Cut the lime into wedges and squeeze over.