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VEGAN PHO

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Pho originated in Northern Vietnam during the mid-1880s. It’s believed that ‘pho’ is derived from ‘pot au feu’ a French soup. Vietnamese cooks blended the Chinese, French and native influences to make a dish that’s uniquely Vietnamese. This mushroom-based pho is plant based with a delicious unami (a strong meaty taste) that’s balanced by the sweet smokiness of char-grilled aromatics, and warmed with spices like cinnamon, star anise and cloves.

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The secret to achieving a beefy flavour in the vegan broth is to use a combination of dried mushrooms for the base of the broth. This recipe uses a combination of dried shiitake and dried maitake as they both have a flavour similar to browned beef. Dried mushrooms concentrate flavour significantly increases the content of unami as dried shiitake contain over 15 times the amount of glutamate as the fresh shiitake. Dried mushrooms also give their flavour much faster than fresh ones. To make a really good bowl of homemade authentic pho, charring aromatics create hints of smokiness and caramel, and the grilling adds new flavours that give a complexity to the plant based pho. You’ll note the recipe doesn’t use soy sauce as a substitute for fish sauce, because it’s inky colour would cloud the mahogany colour and turn the pho into soy sauce soup. Instead, salt is added and to balance the salt and draw out the charred aromatics, coconut sugar is added to develop a balanced full-bodied broth.

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Health benefits:

·       Certain components of the shiitake mushroom have hypolipidaemic (fat-reducing) effects, that b-glucan can increase satiety, reduce food intake, delay nutrition absorption and reduce plasma lipid (fat) levels.

·       Mushrooms have the ability to boost the immune system and combat many diseases by way of providing important vitamins, minerals and enzymes. 

·       Research suggests that shiitake mushrooms help fight cancer cells and the lentinan in shiitakes help heal chromosome damage caused by anticancer treatments.

·       They also contain potent phytonutrients that help keep cells from sticking to blood vessel walls and forming plaque buildup, which maintains healthy blood pressure and improves circulation.

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VEGAN PHO

V, GF

Makes 2 bowls

 

For the noodles:

150 grams Banh pho rice noodles

 

For the soup:

1 medium onion

1 knob ginger

4 cloves garlic

5 cups water

3 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 pod star anise

10 grams dried shiitake

10 grams fried maitake

1 coriander root

1½ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoons coconut sugar

 

For the tofu:

60 grams tofu

¼ cup pho soup broth

1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce

 

For the toppings:

Sweet onion, enoki mushrooms, bean sprouts, coriander, Thai basil, sliced red chilli, lime wedges, Sriracha, Hoisin sauce

 

Place the rice noodles into a deep cake tray and cover with cold water, so they rehydrate for an hour. Peel and slice the onion into 1 cm slices. Slice the ginger into ½ cm coins, and peel the garlic cloves. Put the oven on as high as you can, like 240‘C. Place on a baking tray and slide onto the top rung in the oven so the tops of the aromatics can char (watch carefully as the garlic will need removing first). Meanwhile add the water, cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise, dried maitake, dried shiitake, cilantro root, salt and sugar to a saucepan. When the aromatics are charred add them to a saucepan. Bring to boil and simmer the broth for 30 minutes, then strain. Pick the maitake and shiitake mushrooms from the solids and discard the rest. Keep the broth covered. Heat a saucepan of water and bring to boil (for the rice noodles). Cut the tofu into pieces. Add ¼ cup of pho soup broth and the hoisin sauce to a fry pan, bring to boil and add the tofu and mushrooms. Cook until the sauce is gone and the tofu and mushrooms are glazed by the sauce. Boil the noodles for 1-2 minutes, until tender and drain. Separate the noodles between two or three bowls (depending on the size per person), pour in the pho broth, and top with slices of sweet onion. Serve with toppings: bean sprouts, coriander, lime quarters, sriracha and hoisin sauce. Enjoy!