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To be honest, I suspected that Vegetarian pho will ever be tasty. We are content with the beef pho and never thought of making anything different. After all, the traditional pho had reached its utmost that any improvement, innovation will just ruin it. Many people had tried to change it, failed.
I gave the vegetarian pho a try, not for me, and surprisingly - unexpectedly, It tasted, delicious. I enjoyed it: light - fresh - healthy.
1 lb. while radish, peeled and cut into 1/3” thick slices
1 medium - big leek, washed and cut into 1/2” thick slices
1/2-1 lb. carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2” thick slices
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cut into small pieces.
1-2 tbsp. sugar or 1 oz. rock sugar
salt to taste
1-2 star anise
10 black pepper corn
1 oz. ginger
1/2 a medium onion
1 lb. dried flat rice noodle, soaked in warm water for 1-2h or cold water overnight.
1/2 -1 lb. firm tofu, cut into small pieces 1” x 1/2” x 1/5” , hard fried and marinated with soy sauce
1 lb. fresh mushroom, cut into small pieces
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Make the broth: Place white radish (moli), carrot, dill and kohlrabi in to the stockpot, cover with 3l water, add 1 tbsp salt and bring to rolling boil. Skim any scum that raises then reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4hours.
- Seasoning: Add sugar and salt to taste. Grilled ginger and onion over charcoal or fire, scrape ginger's skin, peel onion and add to the stockpot. Toast/grill cardamons, star anise and cinnamon sticks till release aroma, add to the stockpot. Keep simmer for half an hour then turn off the heat and strain the stock through a fine sieves or a colander lined with cheese cloth. Dishcard the solid.
- Meanwhile, prepare the topping: Pour oil into a flat bottom pan, heat over medium-high heat till the oil hot, and searing tofu on both sides then marinate with 3 tbsp soy sauce. In a skillet, stir-fry mushroom with thinly sliced onion and season with soy sauce. Leave aside.
- Assembling: Place one or two portion of noodle on the vertical-handle strainer (or fine sieve). Dunk the strainer into the boiling water and stir or shake. When the noodle is ready, lift the strainer and let water drain back into the pot, give it final shakes and pour the noodle to serving bowl.Top with tofu, mushroom, herbs and cover with generous broth. Sever with fragrant herbs and soy sauce.
Top with your favourite ingredients
Rice noodle cooking time depends on type of noodle, soaking length and water' temperature so we need some experience or experiment here.