Vegetarian Pho

Are you a pho addict yet? I didn’t know about this brothy Vietnamese soup until a couple of years ago, but once I did I was hooked. HOOKED I tell you!

Most commonly you see it made with thinly shaved raw beef that’s cooked by the heat of the broth and ladled over rice noodles. You’re given mix-ins like bean sprouts, lime, basil and chilli on the side that you can add at your own discretion. Interactive food! You know I love that.

But it’s often hard to find vegetarian-friendly versions of pho in restaurants. Luckily, you can make this aromatic broth at home pretty easily and load it up with all the veggies you want.

My version used a heap of mushrooms and spinach, as well as soba noodles in the place of the rice noodles. Traditional? Not all all. Vegetable-packed, slightly spicy, aniseedy pho-like goodness? Yessir.

You can easily make this broth non-vegetarian by using beef or chicken broth and fish sauce. I personally prefer the fish sauce here instead of soy sauce, but it’s up to you. You could also add cooked shredded chicken or prawns.

Vegetarian Pho Broth (serves 4)
adapted very slightly from The Kitchn

- 1 large onion, peeled and halved
– 4-inch/10-cm piece fresh ginger root, peeled and halved lengthwise
– 2 3-inch/7.5-cm cinnamon sticks
– 2 star anise
– 4 cloves
– 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
– 8 cups vegetable stock (or stock of you choice)
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or fish sauce)
– 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

Char onion and ginger directly under a broiler until slightly blackened, about 5 minutes on each side. Rinse with water.

In a large pot, dry roast cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and coriander over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent burning. When spices are aromatic (about 2 minutes), add vegetable stock, soy sauce, carrots, and charred onion and ginger.

Bring broth to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain and keep hot until ready to serve.

Vegetarian Pho
– soba noodles (or rice noodles)
– 3 cups mushrooms
– 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped

Toppings
– finely chopped chilies
– finely chopped green onion
– bean sprouts
– basil
– mint
– cilantro
– sriracha

Prepare noodles ahead. For soba noodles, cook in boiling water for about 4 minutes (according to package) strain and portion into bowls. If using rice noodles, soak in boiling water for approximately 20 minutes or according to package instructions. Pour broth over the noodles when you’re ready to serve.

I added sliced mushrooms to my finished broth and cooked covered for about 10 minutes until tender, adding the spinach in the last minute or two. Serve hot with desired toppings.

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Brothy Chinese Noodles with Barramundi

I understand that, in some circles, slurping is considered rude.

But let’s be real. Hot soup, cool night, lots of broth and noodles… slurping is bound to happen.

Sometimes you’ve got to do it. The meal demands it. And hey, slurping isn’t really the rudest thing you can do, is it? …you know you want to.

This soup is easy to prepare, warming, satisfying, but light and brothy enough to eat the whole bowl.

The slurping of such a dish is non-negotiable though. Deal with it.

Brothy Chinese Noodles with Poached Barramundi  (serves 2)
Adapted from Eating Well

- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
– 1 red chili pepper, finely sliced
– 4 scallions or green onions, sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
– 3-4 cups vegetable broth
– 2 tablespoons soy sauce
– 130 grams/4.5 ounces dried chinese noodles
– 2 cups thinly sliced bok choy, roughly chopped
– 500-600 grams/1.25 lb of barramundi or meaty white fish, but into 5 cm/2 inch chunks

In a large pot, heat sesame oil over a medium high heat. Add chili, green onions, garlic and ginger and cook for 3 minutes until everything is beginning to soften and become fragrant.

Add vegetable broth and soy sauce and bring to a boil.

Add noodles and cook for 5 minutes.

Add bok choy and stir into the broth.

Place fish on top of noodles and bok choy, half-submerged in the liquid and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the pieces of fish over and cook for another 3 minutes covered. Fish should be white throughout and easily flaked with a fork.

To Serve, place noodles in a large bowl, with fish on top and pour broth over it.