Pho is a popular Vietnamese noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, vegetables and meat.
Pho has traveled beautifully, and has become a complete meal comfort food in many homes and restaurants around the world.
It usually uses as its base beef bone broth that cooks overnight. If you have time to make it, more power to you. I will not go here into the making of a beef bone broth. Certainly not because I don’t think beef broth is wonderful and wonderfully nourishing, but because my goal here is to encourage you to make pho on short notice.
So my solution to a bone-broth-less pho is miso paste, and a good splash of sake
There are no hard and fast rules to what pho should include, but some key ingredients are always in place:
- Very thin sliced meat. The meat practically cooks on contact, in seconds, and is added all the way at the end of cooking. Seitan and/or tofu for a vegetarian version
- Sprouts, lime, cilantro and scallions are added just before serving
I think of Pho as the culinary love child between miso soup and pad thai.
I will include some of my favorite ingredients, and you will play with your broth and your vegetables as you see fit
Attention Vegetarian friends:
Pho is for you too! Simply skip the sliced beef, and add seitan strips and/or firm tofu cubes
8 cups water (if you have natural beef broth, use that)
3 thin carrots, sliced very thin
3 ribs celery, peeled and sliced very thin
1 pound shiitake, caps only, sliced very thin
5-6 ribs nappa cabbage, sliced very thin
2/3 cups miso paste (skip if you used beef broth)
1/2 cup dry sake (skip if you used beef broth)
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1 green or red jalapeno pepper, minced
1 cheesecloth tied around: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise pods, 1 rib coarsely chopped lemongrass, 2 inch coarsely chopped piece ginger
1/2 pound rice noodles
1 1/2 pounds London broil, well chilled, sliced very thin (vegetarian: use strips of seitan and/or diced firm tofu)
2 cups soy bean sprouts
6-8 sprigs cilantro, minced
1/4 basil leaves, packed, sliced very thin
8 scallions, sliced very thin
2 limes, cut in wedges
Bring all soup ingredients to a boil. As soon as it is boiled, turn off the heat. Discard the cheesecloth bag.
While the soup comes to a boil, divide all the garnishes evenly between 6 soup bowls. Pour the boiling broth over the garnishes. Serve hot.