faux pho

After my good-but-not-13-dollars-a-bowl-good experience at the new Elizabeth Street Cafe a few weeks ago, I’ve been craving Pho. Pho appeals to me because it is a cheap, healthy meal that can be made easily vegetarian. Pho Chay, Pho made with vegetable broth, was on the menu for dinner tonight. And it’s pronounced Fuh, not Foe, but I prefer calling what I make “Faux Pho” because no matter what I do it never tastes as authentic as Pho from a Vietnamese restaurant.

For this recipe, I cheated and used a pre-made Vegetarian Pho Soup Starter by Pacific. It is the closest I’ve gotten flavor-wise to that ever-elusive restaurant quality Pho, so I definitely recommend it, especially for an extra quick meal. I’ll likely experiment making my own base using this recipe next time, though.

Vegetarian Faux Pho Ingredients:

2 boxes Pacific Vegetarian Pho Soup Starter

1 bunch green onions

Handful bean sprouts

1 large bunch bok choy

1 block firm or extra-firm tofu

1 package flat rice noodles

2-3 cloves garlic

Directions:

1. Pour the stock into a large pot and set to medium heat. Peel and score a few garlic cloves, and add them to the simmering broth.

2. While waiting for the stock to come to a simmer, cook the flat rice noodles in a separate pot according to package directions.

3. Open the package of tofu and gently squeeze as much excess water from the block as possible. Cut into small cubes and add to the pot.

4. Thinly slice the green onions and add ’em in!

5. Drain the rice noodles and rinse with cold water (this improves their texture and makes them less mushy.) Place a helping of noodles into a large bowl.

6. Roughly chop the bok choy and add to the pot right before you’re ready to eat. I actually turned the pot off, covered it, and waited a few minutes. The residual heat cooked the leaves perfectly.

7. Ladle broth over the noodles. Garnish with bean sprouts. Jalapeno and cilantro are other common additions, but I despise cilantro and prefer sriracha for my heat.

All in all, a pretty good bowl of Pho, for homemade and all. Vegetarians, if you know where the good veggie Pho is hiding in Austin, do tell!

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