Main Dish

Pho

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we were without a kitchen for a while.  During that time, I had the chance to read through many of the recipes I’ve saved and cookbooks I have used.

One of my favorite cookbooks is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  I also enjoy the original How to Cook Everything and his The Best Recipes in the World.  His books have taught me to look at method and preparation.  There is a recipe to follow, but you can also make it your own.  I love that.

This is one of those recipes.  He calls it Faux Pho.  I’ve made it a few times with some of his variations listed and some of my own.  They have all been delicious.  Since I’ve made it differently every time, I am posting his recipe so you can play around with it to your taste.

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Pho

8 ounces thin dried rice vermicelli

1 tablespoons neutral oil (peanut, grape seed or corn)

2 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon ground anise or coriander seeds

½ teaspoon ground cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg

¼ to ½ cup soy sauce

2 bay leaves (optional)

4 stems fresh cilantro for garnish

4 stems fresh basil, preferably Thai, or mint for garnish

1 fresh chile, preferably Thai, stemmed, seeded and minced for garnish

2 scallions, chopped for garnish

2 limes, cut into wedges for garnish

1 cup fresh mung bean sprouts, rinsed for garnish

1 pound (about 4 cups) sliced fresh vegetables, like bok choy, Napa cabbage, mustard greens, broccoli or broccoli raab, carrots, green beans, summer squash or a combination.

1 cup diced tofu or cooked, shelled edamame

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook the rice vermicelli in boiling salted water until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes; drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

Put the oil in a deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about a minute.  Add the spices and stir until warm and fragrant, about 1 minute more.  Stir in 6 cups of water, the soy sauce, and the bay leaves if you’re using them.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat so that the soup bubbles gently and partly cover while you prepare the toppings and garnishes.

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Arrange the garnishes in bowls or on platters.  Add the vegetables and the tofu to the simmering soup if you like, turn the heat to medium-high, cover, and cook until the vegetables are just tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  Stir in the rice vermicelli, taste, and sprinkle with salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve in big bowls, passing the garnishes at the table.  We like to eat this soup with something crispy, like “Crab” Rangoon.  Crunchy egg rolls would be delicious too.

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