Pho-licious

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I don’t know if you, my fellow blog readers, have noticed that I played it pretty safe with my recipes that I cook. Most things I make I have an idea of how it is going to taste and if it’s going to be a success. I don’t really like to cook things that could very possibly go wrong because I don’t like to waste food. Oh, and I don’t like to be a failure, of course!! The epic fail that were the original kale chips forced me to hide in a corner for 2 days while thinking about giving up cooking forever. Yeah-I don’t like to fail. Flavors I know will work together, predictable ingredients and stuff that I can buy in my local grocery store.

This past Sunday, however, I jumped waaay outside my comfort zone. Cause I’m crazy like that. Leng had posted a simple recipe for vegetarian Pho last week (or longer…my mind is going blank) that she has come up with. The second I saw her post, I thought “whoa-that’s a little crazy for me.” Yeah-I’ve had pho before. And I love it. It might be one of my favorite foods. That and Nutella of course. (Maybe my next experiment will be finding a way to combine pho and Nutella. Hmmm-maybe not). But, it’s such a complex dish with so many different flavors that I didn’t trust my self-taught culinary skills. Pho is fancy and crazy and not fail-proof!!! i.e. not Betsy’s ego boosting and possibly ego bruising. However, I took another look at her recipe, which was actually pretty basic, and decided to be fancy and crazy and adventerous (like the pho) and try it out. And yeah, I did.

Before I started, though, I needed to take a little field trip down to Chinatown, which is, thank god, quite close to my apartment so it wasn’t too out of the way. I needed to find my pho noodles, of course! Chinatown is such a fun neighborhood and one I really should explore a little more. There are soo many restaurants and stores and food shops and stalls full of different ingredients that could be sooo fun to experiment with. It took many trips into several stores to finally find my pho noodles which I stumbled upon at a store that sold only noodles in bins on the street. Works for me! And the whole package (which I really think could last me 5 years)-$1.00. !!!! I know!! Chinatown is definitely budget friendly.

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After picking up the rest of my ingredients, I got cooking. Well, I headed home and then got cooking. It was actually quite simple to put together. I simmered the broth with lots of onions and ginger and anise (I basically ransacked the entire city for star anise but couldn’t find any. I think it’s a conspriacy) while I prepared my toppings-the best part of pho. I love going to a vietnamese restaurant and getting that little plate of toppings to make your bowl of pho however delicious you want it. One my cutting board I had little piles of herbs and onions and tofu and limes. It was so cute, I wish I had taken a picture of it. When the broth was almost done, I cooked my noodles, which were dried, not fresh like Leng had. But, they still cooked soooo fast, and cooked even more once they were in the soup. Once it was all done, I put the noodles and chunks of pressed and drained tofu in the bottom of my bowl, covered it with broth and piled on my toppings. Cilantro, mint, basil, bean sprouts, onion, scallions, lime, hoison, sriracha. All mixed together=pho deliciousness.

My first bite? Yeah-I was nervous. Was it going to taste as complex as I knew it should have? Had I used the right noodles? Had I cooked it enough? Would I end up back in the corner for days, my ego bruised? NO!!! It was fantastic. It warmed my belly and soul with every tasty bite. Salty and sweet and sour and bitter. All the flavors represented. Every bite was different as I got a different herb in my spoon or a piece of onion. Going back and forth between the spoon and chopstocks-broth and noodles, is always fun. It was not boring, to say the least. It was like a party in a bowl! And not a blah party that would leave me shy. It was a party that made me excited and kinda crazy. Cause that’s how this pho made me. Excited and kinda crazy. Leng-you’re amazing. Yeah.

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Vegetarian Pho
makes about 4 servings

2 quarts veggie broth
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 big chunk of ginger
1 yellow onion
Cilantro
Basil
Mint
Scallions
Bean Sprouts
Limes
Hoisin Sauce
Sriracha
Pho noodles
Extra Firm Tofu, pressed and drained, cut into bite size chunks

Saute half of the onion (chopped into half moons) in a little bit of oil (not extra virgin olive oil) in a large pot for about 10 minutes until slightly charred and soft. Add the broth, anise seeds, and ginger that has been chopped into about 4 large chunks. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes on low. While that is cooking prepare your toppings: LOTS of chopped fresh herbs, thinly sliced onions, sliced scallions, lime wedges, bean sprouts. Cook the pho noodles according to the package (I boiled water and added some noodles and turned off the water when I added the noodles and let sit for about 5 minutes.)

Put the noodles and tofu chunks in the bottom of a bowl. Fill the bowl with the broth. Top the soup with whatever toppings your heart desires, including hoisin cause and sriracha, however spicy you want it. Eat it slowly with as your belly becomes warm and very very happy.

Your ego will thank you.

22 Responses to “Pho-licious”


  1. 1 trustmyintuition April 29, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Yum!! I’m glad this turned out as a success for you!

  2. 2 Romina April 29, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    You are very brave! I’m one of those people who can’t seem to get away from foods I’m comfortable with. That pho looks so good! I’ve never tried pho before. =( I’ll have to try it one day!

  3. 3 Meredith April 29, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Pho is one of my favorites. I’ll definitely be making this recipe soon. What brand of veggie stock do you buy?

  4. 4 Lisa from CA April 30, 2008 at 1:29 am

    Pho-bulous!

    sorry, i couldn’t help it.

    there’s actually a restaurant in west hollywood called absolutely phobulous, so that’s where i got the idea. i can’t take all the credit.

  5. 5 Alice (in Veganland) April 30, 2008 at 3:02 am

    Maybe I should cook something like this, because my ego is in the corner crying😉, since I can’t cook a cake in my new oven!
    I’ve never had a pho, believe it or not, so I’m bookmarking this post to try it!

  6. 6 lindzakins921 April 30, 2008 at 6:34 am

    I never had Pho but now I really want to try it… I heard it works miracles when you’re sick😉

    This looks amazing & you are such a fabulous cook!

  7. 7 bohosimple April 30, 2008 at 6:49 am

    I am very proud Betsy! I heard about this from you at brunch, and I am glad that it turned out so well.

    It is not exactly breaking news though that you don’t like to fail. Talk with you for over 5 minutes and someone could figure that out🙂

    Hope the knee is treating you well!

  8. 8 VeggieGirl April 30, 2008 at 6:51 am

    No worries – I tend to play it safe with the recipes that I choose, as well; but I’m working on stepping outside of my comfort zone! :0)

    Whoo hoo!! I’m glad that you thought that the Pho dish was fabulous – definitely sounds/looks like it would be!!

  9. 9 Mom April 30, 2008 at 7:24 am

    what is Pho?

  10. 10 arielle April 30, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Just looking at that makes me happy. Pho does work wonders when you’re sick. Or, uh, hungover.

  11. 11 Cara April 30, 2008 at 9:41 am

    That looks amazing. I make psuedo pho sometimes, but not with so many different ingredients. Looks awesome!! I will have to try adding cilantro and lime next time. mmm.

  12. 12 Leng April 30, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Betsy! I’m so glad you made it and liked it!! See, it wasn’t as complicated as it sounded right? The ginger and star anise really add aroma to the whole dish. Too bad you weren’t able to find the star anise.

    I thought it was funny seeing the lime in your bowl because I’m the only person that I know that does that! Everyone else who eats Pho on a regular basis always looks at me like I’m crazy. I just love the limey flavor.

    AGain so glad You made it AND enjoyed it!!🙂

  13. 13 Leng April 30, 2008 at 11:15 am

    yeah I totally agree. It adds just a nice flavor! I love it so much that I normally use 1 whole lime!

    Earlier on, I used to put 3 TABLESPOON of sugar! Don’t people normally add something savory not sweet? That I got weird stares for also. Haha!

  14. 14 Kim for CA April 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    I’m Vietnamese and haven’t dared to make pho. Your’s look great! Full of colors & vegetarian too. Glad you went out of your comfort zone. Pho is delicious comfort food in our culture.

  15. 15 Carl April 30, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Saw this on the front page and had to comment– Pho is delicious! I introduce all my friends to it as well.

  16. 16 Kelly T. April 30, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I have a friend that is vietnamese, and her mother told me ph is very hard to make, because the broth is very particular and takes a VERY long time to cook properly. Did yours taste the same as you would buy in a restaurant? i LOVE pho and havent had it in a long time. I would love to try it.

    My favorite place is called What the Pho? haha, most people pronounce it Foh, but its Fuh!

  17. 17 susanlx April 30, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I love Pho! I make it every Friday for my husband and on weekends when we have guest over. You can make a little just for two or enough to feed a village… that’s why I like Pho.

  18. 18 oproldan April 30, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    Pho is soo tasty, especially the beef tripe.

    It has some sort of a minty scent that makes it unique. Unfortunately, it may stick to your clothes🙂. The best part about Pho restaurants is also when you order the Vietnamese Iced Coffee. Yea, it does seem like they give you 1/2 a cup, but MAN it’s soo potent!

    -Oliver
    http://www.oliverroldan.wordpress.com

  19. 19 ChocolateCoveredVegan April 30, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    I have been eyeing that recipe!

    As for Amy’s burgers, I definitely agree with you that the American burgers are YUCKY! They don’t even compare to the California or Bistro Burgers. I like these two much better than Boca too.

  20. 20 Betsy May 1, 2008 at 11:20 am

    whoa-lots of comments

    First off-everyone who has never had pho before…TRY IT!!!! it’s amazing and such a cool dish. And it keeps getting better. I had my third bowl last night and I was going to freeze the rest of the broth, but I want to keep eating it cause it’s just so good!!!

    Meredith
    whole foods veggie stock. it’s the cheapest!!! (i think the whole foods 365 brand is a really good deal for everything).

    Lisa
    I think you should take all the credit, cause pho-tastic is awesome.

    Molly (bohosimple)
    after our conversation Sunday where we were both crying, I’d say that’s pretty true. Damn knee.

    Mom
    you’re all set. and i see you finally figured out how to leave comments!!

    Arielle
    Wonders I say. Wonders.

    Cara
    I forgot to add the lime the first night and it tasted a little too sweet. When I added it the second night it was PERFECT!!

    Kim
    Thanks! You should try, this version was so simple.

    Kelly
    This is definitely pantry pho. Not simmering for hours and days pho. But, I didn’t have days, so this worked for me. and it tasted pretty close to authentic! So, if you don’t have days (cause really, who does), this will work in a pinch.

    Susan
    I noticed this, that I can make single size quantities or enough for a party with this recipe. It’s great!

    oprodlan
    yeah…no beef tripe for me. I’m a vegetarian!!

    Katie
    Thanks for the Amy’s info. I thought I was the only one who thought the Amy’s All American tasted like dirt. Now, off to try the other kinds!

  21. 21 sidi2u May 12, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    Yummm, this soup looks so delish.

  22. 22 Tina May 20, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Oooooo, this recipe looks wonderful! I might need to try this one!


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