Vegan pho with spicy tofu is a delicious, filling and naturally gluten-free dish. The broth is full of umami thanks to a couple of very simple tricks.
GARNISHES AND SEASONINGS
- 1 small Chinese cabbage (approx. 500 g / 1 lb)
- 4 celery stalks (120 g), washed and cut into large chunks
- 3 medium carrots (250 g), washed and cut into large chunks
- 1 Fuji apple, peeled and diced
- 1 large onion, cut into quarters
- 5 cm / 2″ piece of ginger
- a bunch of fresh coriander (stalks for the broth, leaves for serving)
- 1 star anise
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 3 cloves
- 2 x 2.5 cm / 1″ pieces of Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 large dried shiitake mushroom
- 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2½ tsp sea salt, more to taste
- 1-2 tbsp lime juice
GARNISHES AND SEASONINGS
- 200 g / 7 oz flat rice noodles or zoodles
- 200 g / 7 oz firm or extra firm tofu, pressed*
- 200 g / 7 oz flat green beans
- peanut oil (or other high smoke point oil), for frying
- fresh coriander
- fresh mint
- 1 red chilli, sliced
- 1 spring onion, sliced
- 3-4 tbsp tamari / soy sauce or vegan fish sauce
- chilli condiment like sambal oelek, to taste (optional)
- Wash ginger and slice it (no need to peel it) into thin slices lengthwise. Spread slices of ginger and quartered onion on a baking tray. Place under a grill / broiler (175° C / 390° F) for about 15-20 minutes to get a nice char. Keep an eye on them and flip them every 5 minutes to make sure they get charred on all sides. Let them cool and rinse under a cold tap to get rid of any flaky charred bits – you don’t want them floating in your stock.
- Dry roast all the spices: cinnamon, coriander seeds, cloves and star anise in a small pan until aromatic and fragrant. Make sure you give the pan a shake very frequently as they can burn easily.
- Wash all the vegetables well. Chop (no need to peel them if scrubbed well) the carrots and apple. Slice celery stalks and chop cabbage leaves into a rough dice. Place all of them in a large pot with a lid together with charred aromatics, toasted spices, coriander stalks, shiitake mushroom and salt. Pour 1.75 l / 9 cups of water into the pot. Place the lid on and bring to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for about 60 minutes.
- Cut your tofu into equal size pieces. Place them in a shallow dish and marinate in 1 tbsp of tamari (or soy sauce) and a touch of chilli paste (I used sambal oelek). After a few minutes, flip them to the other side to make sure it’s seasoned evenly.
- Fry tofu in 1-2 tbsp of hot oil (I used peanut) until golden on both sides. Blot on a piece of kitchen towel. You could also bake it, but it will take longer. Spread marinated tofu on a paper-lined baking tray and bake it in a 180° C / 355° F oven for about 30-40 min, flipping once half way through the baking.
- While the broth is simmering, place nutritional yeast in a measuring cup and pour 180 ml (¾ cup) of boiling water over it. Set aside for the murkier liquid to settle at the bottom.
- Cook your noodles according to the instructions on the packet. It’s worth undercooking them a touch as when they get immersed in a steaming hot broth they’ll soften a little more. Instead of rice noodles, you could also use zucchini strands (zoodles) if you want a lighter meal.
- Cut beans on the diagonal. Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a small pan / wok and once hot, add sliced beans. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until cooked but still crunchy. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Strain the broth through a fine sieve – squeeze as much liquid out of the veggies as you can. Season with lime juice (I used 2 tbsp), nutritional yeast extract (only use the clear part floating on the top, discard the murkier stuff), and tamari (soy sauce) or vegan fish sauce to taste.
- Place a cluster of noodles, a few bits of tofu and stir-fried beans in each soup bowl. Pour hot soup on top. Garnish with sliced spring onions, hot chilli slices, chilli sauce of choice (optional), fresh mint and coriander leaves.