Pho is my friend. No, pho is my family. Unfortunately not in heritage because as far as I know there is no Vietnamese in my blood. However, it has seen me at my worst, it has been there to celebrate my blessings, and I have introduced it to the people that I care about the most. There has been no partner with me longer than Pho.
Pho is now ubiquitous here in Seattle. We are lucky in this city to have myriad ethnic cuisines, and I take it for granted that everyone has had these magic noodles bathed in cure-all potion. To me, the beauty of pho is in its simplicity – vegetables, protein, and broth – relying on the highest quality ingredients and proportion of spices to distinguish one restaurant’s from the next.
My pho is not authentic, but it bears my signature. I frequently have all the ingredients on hand, so it has become the go-to comfort food to throw together on a weekday evening. Its easily customizable – I make a big pot of the broth, then I lay out all the vegetables and accoutrements on a cutting board for my partner and I to suit to our needs. (He loves extra noodles, I like to mix a handful of vermicelli in with spiralized zucchini.)
You can get ribbons of both zucchini noodles and carrots by simply taking a vegetable peeler to each and making sure to carefully carve long strands. I like to use this handheld spiralizer – it does not work with dense root veggies like carrots, but it works great for getting thin, vermicelli-like strands of zucchini.
VEGAN ZOODLE PHO WITH TOFU
1/2 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 yellow onion
1 tbsp garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 whole star anise
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 cinnamon stick, or 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 whole zucchini, spiralized (see above comments)
8 oz. brown rice vermicelli noodles (optional)
1 carrot, shredded or peeled into long strands
1 c sliced mushrooms
1 jalapeno, sliced
Sriracha, hoisin, & lime to taste
- Press tofu by wrapping in two kitchen towels and leaving something heavy (cast iron pan, cookie sheet laden with books, etc.) on top for 15-20 minutes. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes (and ground cinnamon, if using) and saute another minute
- If using pieces of star anise and whole cinnamon sticks, use kitchen twine and a square of cheesecloth to make a “teabag” by placing the anise and cinnamon in the square and tying up with kitchen twine. Add broth and your teabag to the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Cook noodles according to package directions, if using.
- Heat your oven to broil. Unwrap the pressed tofu and cube. Spread tofu out evenly on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler until it starts to turn golden and a lightly browned crust is just beginning to form.
- Start by layering zoodles and vermicelli in two soup bowls. Once broth is done simmering, ladle on top of the noodles/zoodles, being careful to avoid the spice packet/teabag. Add extra veggies, a squeeze of lime, and top with hoisin and sriracha as desired!
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