Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Let them eat vegan Pho
Casa Clark has gone vegan. It's been coming for a while and it's been a good thing especially for me. R and C aren't too convinced yet and occasionally ask for eggs, cheese, and milk (although C has been drinking lots of my almond milk lately). It's been a challenging culinary adventure but I'm not one to shy away from a fight.
One of my most favorite things in the world is the wonderful Vietnamese rice noodle soup Pho. The only problem is that as a recent vegan I know there is fish sauce lurking in the savory depths and was bummed that I couldn't have it especially since it's gotten a bit chilly out there. I was looking at my p.v. (pre- vegan) cookbooks and found a Pho recipe in my Cook's Illustrated The Best International Recipe cookbook and liked some and changed some. You'll die at the depth of flavor in the broth and have a healthy dinner to boot. The secret to this broth is time, so start it the night before or before you head out to work. Trust me, it's worth the wait.
Vegan Pho Broth (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
You'll need a dutch oven and crock pot for this one.
4 tsp vege oil ( I didn't actually measure the oil and just added enough to cover the bottom of my dutch oven)
4 medium onions sliced
8 medium garlic cloves, pressed
2 lemon stalk with tough outer edges removed and sliced thin; only use the bottom 5" of it
20 c water
4 Tbsp tamari
4 Tbsp sugar
8 star anise pods
8 whole cloves
a handful of dried shiitake mushrooms
a piece of Kombu for dashi cut in half
mushroom soy sauce or tamari to taste
1 piece of lemon grass with outer skin removed and mashed a bit with the back of a knife ( to add to crock pot)
Add the oil to your dutch oven and warm up; add the onions and cook until caramelized. This is a very important step because it will add color and flavor to the broth.
Add the garlic and lemon grass and cook until fragrant. Add the water, tamari, sugar, dried mushrooms, and kombu. Now you can add the star anise and cloves but I place 4 star anise and 4 cloves into a tea pouch ( so you'll make 2 pouches) and then add. It makes it easier to get them out later. It'll make sense.
Place the lid on your dutch oven and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat a bit and allow to simmer for 10 min. Now here is where the magic happens.
Before you strain your broth into the crock pot be sure to dig out one of your spice pouches and the kombu; set aside. Strain the rest of your broth into the crock pot and add the reserved spice pouch, kombu, and the macerated lemon grass. Cook it on low for at least 8 hours. Season to taste with more tamari or mushroom soy sauce as needed.
As far as the garnishes go, the sky's the limit. I personally like to use bean sprouts, chopped tofu, carrots, green onions, sliced bok choy, sliced jalapenos, sliced cabbage, cilantro leaves, rice noodles, and Thai basil of course. You place your garnishes into your bowl and then top with the hot broth. Add some Sriracha and you're in business. This is super healthy and delicious comfort food that you'll crave throughout the winter.