Vegan Pho (Pho Chay)

After my first attempt at making pho, here is my version of Vegan Pho. For those who have not heard of Pho before: Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of broth, rice noodles (bánh phở) and fresh herbs. Traditionally meat based, Pho Chay is the vegetarian version eaten widely across Vietnam. I’ve always enjoyed Vietnamese food even though I have never travelled to Vietnam. My exposure to Vietnamese cuisine has been mainly by trying out multiple Vietnamese restaurants in London and tasting varied versions of Pho. This again was one of the dishes I never thought I would make at home. But lockdown got me craving this! The dish does require a lot of patience and time so it is definitely one for the time you wish to spend time and enjoy the cook!

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Total cook time: 2 hours

Servings: 2

Ingredients

For Spice Mix:

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1 black cardamom (if you do not have this, you can skip it!)

For Vegetable Broth:

  • 2 tbsp sweetcorn (I used frozen, but you can use fresh if you have it!)
  • 1½ celery sticks (sliced)
  • 1 red apple (sliced)
  • ¼  daikon radish (sliced)
  • 6-7 button mushrooms (use any variety of mushrooms you can get; you could also mix various varieties or used dried mushrooms as an alternative as well)
  • 1 carrot (sliced)
  • 3 shallots (sliced and charred – see below) (you could also use white onion instead)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves (charred – see below)
  • 2-3 1-inch ginger slices (charred- see below)
  • 1.6 litres water
  • Salt to taste

For Noodles and Condiments:

  • 100 gms rice noodles
  • 7-8 button mushrooms (or any variety sliced)
  • 150 gms firm tofu (I used Cauldron’s firm tofu)
  • ½ broccoli head
  • 2 tbsp oil to sauté
  • For Garnish:
    • Handful Fresh herbs (mint, coriander, basil)
    • 1-2 Green Chillies (chopped)
    • Handful beansprouts (I didn’t have these but if you do, you could use them!)
    • ½ lime

Method

For Vegetable Broth

  1. On the hob, roast the onions, garlic and ginger until charred and keep aside. I used a wired mesh to char them quicker but you could do it on a pan as well.
  2. In a separate pan roast the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks and black cardamom on a low flame for 3-4 minutes or until they turn aromatic and keep aside.

3. In a pressure cooker, add 1.6 water along with the carrot, celery, sweetcorn, mushrooms, daikon radish, red apple, charred onions, ginger and garlic and roasted spices (above).

4. Pressure cook for about 1 hour on medium heat. I prefer using the pressure cooker as it cooks quicker. But if you do not have a pressure cooker, you could make the broth in a deep pan and let it cook with a lid on for about 1.5 hours to develop the flavour.

5. While the broth is cooking, you can prepare the noodles and remaining veggies (below).


6. After an hour, strain the veggies to leave a clear broth. You can discard the veggies or use some of them in your pho including the daikon radish, mushroom and carrots if you want to.

7. Season the broth with salt.

8. Add the mushroom, broccoli and tofu to the broth and cook on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes.

For Noodles and Vegetables

  1. In a pan, boil water with some salt.
  2. Add the noodles and boil for 7-8 minutes or until soft.
  3. Strain the noodles, wash under cold water and keep aside.

4. In a separate pan, add 1 tbsp oil.

5. Once hot, add the tofu and cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes turning it on each side until it is crispy and add to the broth (above).

6. In the same pan, heat ½ tbsp of oil.

7. Add the mushroom with some salt and cook on medium heat until the water has dried out and add to the broth (above).

8. In the same pan, heat ½ tbsp of oil.

9. Add the broccoli with some salt and cook on medium heat until it is slightly charred and softened and add to the broth (above).

Assemble the Pho

  1. In a deep bowl, add the boiled noodles.
  2. Pour the broth on top of the noodles.
  3. Garnish with fresh herbs, chillies and beansprouts and enjoy hot!

Hope you enjoy this!

Payal

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