Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Pho :)

One of the hardest sacrifices upon taking up the plant-based lifestyle was our weekly vietnamese take-out where we would each eat a bowl of delicious pho bo soup and feel marvelously satisfied. So, about a month ago, i decided i couldn't live without it any longer... kitchen chemistry prevailed and my, i didn't realize just how much i'd missed it. Pho is all about the spice combination, so once you have those balances together, i am convinced the meatless version is better. (For those desperate to invite non plant eaters around for dinner, you can throw in some salmon pieces to satisfy them). Serves 4.

For Broth:
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp sichuan pepper
1/8 tsp white pepper
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/8 tsp cardamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
salt & pepper
3 cilantro roots
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 stick lemongrass, chopped into inches
zest of 1 lime and juice
3 veggo stock cubes
1 T brown sugar
8 C water

1 small eggplant, peeled and diced
1 bunch of cilantro, stems finely diced, leaves reserved for serving
1 spanish onion, finely sliced in rings
3 roma tomatoes, roughly diced
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
3 pak choi, sliced into 1 inch chunks
5 snake beans, sliced into 1 inch lengths
6 button mushrooms, sliced fine
1 can straw mushrooms

1 pkt rice noodles

Herbs and extras to serve:
Reserved leaves of cilantro bunch
1/2 bunch vietnamese basil
1 red chilli, finely sliced
1 pkt of bean sprouts
2 limes, halved

In a medium-sized pot, over med-high heat, combine all your broth ingredients and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently to intensify all the flavors. The aroma should be delectable. Check for seasoning, adding a little more salt or white pepper, lime juice or brown sugar or another stock cube to suit your particular taste.

Once you are happy with the broth intensity, sieve the liquid into a large pot, picking out the lemongrass chunks and kaffir lime leaves to also include, before discarding the other spices. (I've found you can save the cinnamon stick for another pho broth go if you're so inclined).
Bring the broth back to almost a boil and then add your eggplant and diced cilantro stems and make sure you have all the other ingredients ready to go. Once the eggplant is cooked (which takes between 5-8 minutes) you literally throw everything in together and add a little more water if necessary. Stir everything round to make sure the rice noodles disappear into the liquid (it's easier to use 2 wooden spoons to help with this). The soup will only take another 5-10 minutes to cook. You want to make sure not to overcook the noodles, so keep stirring everything round so it all cooks evenly. Taste check for seasoning. If you want to add some fish add finely diced pieces through the mix once you've removed the vegetarian portions.

To serve:
Ladle out a big bundle of noodles and veggies and broth and then add the very important toppings:
a good handful of bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, vietnamese basil leaves, 1/2 a lime, and a few pieces of red chili :)

SOOO delicious :)

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