Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hey Everybody, I Am Pho King!

Pho is widely considered the national dish of Vietnam. Pronounced “Fuh,” it lends itself well to puns (go back and read the title of this post again). Pho is a soup of noodles, rich broth, spices and, traditionally, beef. In this recipe, I substitute tofu for the beef, but I otherwise try to remain true to the traditional spirit.

There are a couple substitution options for this recipe. You can use seitan instead of tofu, if you like. Also, you can use any type of long, thin noodles. Traditionally, this dish is served with very thin rice noodles. But if you want a healthier version, whole-wheat angel hair or vermicelli is just fine.

Prep time: 2 cocktails

1 pound tofu, cubed cut into 1” cubes
6 ounces whole wheat angel hair or 12 ounces rice noodles
1 small head garlic, unpeeled, cut in half horizontally
1 small onion, unpeeled, quartered
2 medium shallots, unpeeled, halved
1.5-inch piece ginger, unpeeled and sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
1 TBSP whole black peppercorns
6 pods star anise
5 cloves
8 cups veggie stock (click here for homemade recipe)
3 TBSP Braggs, tamari, or fish sauce
1.5 cups cabbage (and/or greens like chard, kale or spinach), coarsely chopped (optional)
8 ounces bean sprouts
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
Hoisin sauce
Siracha sauce
½ cup peanuts coarsely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a cookie sheet with a high-temperature oil, like sesame or peanut oil. Arrange tofu so that cubes ore not touching. Bake until the bottoms become a bit toasty golden, about 15 minutes. Then switch the oven to broil and cook until the tops do the same. Turn off oven and set tofu aside.

While tofu is cooking, heat a large dry pot on medium high heat. When hot, combine garlic, onion, shallot, ginger, cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, and cloves. Dry fry these items until the onions get charred, about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. When onion is charred, add stock and Braggs and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes.

As the broth simmers, cook your noodles.

Now remove broth from heat and run through a strainer. Discard the solids and return to stovetop. If using, add cabbage and/or greens. Bring to boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat.

Now assemble the soup. Take a large bowl and add some noodles, tofu and bean sprouts. Ladle hot broth over the top of everything.

Serve soup with a tray of accessories and garnishes that includes the cilantro, lime, scallions, hoisin, Siracha and peanuts. Add these to taste.

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