faux pho: gluten free vegan pho rice noodle soup
Awesome pun credits go to Pauline Y and Jason C, ex-labmates with whom I served in a hell created by an evil leprechaun. Faux pho; I still smile every time!
I have been meaning to post this recipe for ages! There is nothing on earth as sweet as a good bowl of pho, and yet it always seemed out of reach to the average vegan cook. I had always thought that the wonderous interplay of flavours in pho were dependent on beef stock and connective tissues; how wrong I was! And how deliciously so!!
Turns out vegan pho is here and it is now and it is easy!!
This recipe was tweaked from the one found here.
For the soup part:
1 large onion
2-3 shallots (these look like small onions, nothing green here)
10 cloves of garlic
2-3 inches of ginger
3 inches of cinnamon sticks
4 cloves (the charismatically androgynous sweet-savoury spice)
2-3 star anise stars (one for Trotsky, one for Che, and one for Mao if your are feeling particularly mass-murderously megalomaniacal)
8 cups of some sort of stock (vegan beef and chicken stock can be bought from veganessentials.com, I am a big fan of the brand Massel but the other stuff is tasty too!!)
As much tofu as you think wise (frozen, defrosted, and fried until you pity it and can torture it no more)
1/4 cup of tamari
Rice noodles of some kind (I have used a variety and they all come out the same)
For the final adjustments when serving:
Fresh (still looks like a plant) basil (asian basil has a kind of minty flavor, but really any basil will work)
Spring onions (AKA green onion, scallions, and shallots where I grew up)
Sprouts (the thick, crunchy ones used in asian food, not alfalfa sprouts)
Hoisin sauce (you can get gluten free Hoisin at a lot of stores, especially health food stores)
Tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (make sure you have the GF tamari, as there seems to be some confusion in labelling!)
Do not peel anything! Slice the onion and shallots down the middle. Cut across the bulb of garlic (if you have an 8-clove bulb), or down the middle of each clove. Slice the ginger, skin and all, into slabs 1/8th of an inch thick. Throw everything, including the cinnamon, cloves, and star anise, into a dry, hot pot. Dry roast them (ie kinda fry them without the oil, lots of heat), flipping everything around as necessary until they are a bit charred. I like them to get really charred, for the smoke flavor that goes right through the soup! Add the stock, tofu, and 1/4 cup of tamari. Boil for at least 30 minutes, but there is no need for excessively vigorous boiling, we are not trying to dissolve the onions or break up the tremulous tofu.
After things have been boiling for a while, strain out the solids from the soup. The soup can be stored after straining if desired. I like to make my soup the night before use, and store it either on the bench or in the fridge overnight; the flavors really mesh with some rest (or partying!).
Prepare the rice noodles in the quantity, and according to the methods, on the pack. Do not do what I always do, and try to cook the noodles in the soup as one of two things will happen: 1) if you have sufficient soup liquid in the pot, the rice noodles will dissolve, leaving you with a somewhat disgusting gloop, or 2) if you have insufficient soup in the pot, the rice noodles will soak up all of the moisture, leaving you with pho stirfry!!
Pour the soup into the serving bowls, and add the rice noodles (some people suggest adding them al dente so they cook in the bowl, but I am yet to reach such levels of sophistication!).
Add as many sprouts as your heart desires! Throw in the sauces until the soup is dark and cloudy! Or keep it as clean and pristine as the memory of Mother Mary Magdalene through abstinence if you desire abnegation! Me, I think pho is not the tie for such things as restraint! Feel the strength of your frenzy as you shred herbacious leaves, rending and rendering herbs victims of the drive to deliciousness!! Basil, cilantro, spring onions, all dismembered!! Lime wedges exsanguinated of their pulpy juices!
Mix it all up. Savor the lusciousness as you consume the flavors of pure, unadulterated herbal offerings, each distinct herbal signature melding with the salty-sweet, richly complex vein of the broth. Crunch on the sprouts, dentally sag into the soft tofu. Drink the broth, but beware of the rice noodles that expand in your stomach for hours after you have eaten!
Faux pho shall have its revenge for your reckless frenzy!
But above all; nomz.