Pho is one of my favorite foods, but I'm vegetarian and can't do msg. I'd really like to make my own broth from scratch for this and haven't managed something really good yet. Any ideas or recipes floating around out there?
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Anita is a vegan pastry chef & founder of Electric Blue Baking Co. in Brooklyn.
I am also vegetarian (vegan, actually) and love a good bowl of hearty noodles. I pretty much make the same broth for ramen, pho, tom yum, etc, and tweak the ingredients to suit each recipe.
The secret to doing it fast and easy is Seitenbacher's vegetable seasoning. It makes the most delicious vegetable broth instantly. You just stir in about one teaspoon for every cup of water. (There are other brands of vegetable seasoning, but I like this one because it includes herbs and doesn't have any soy.)
Besides, that, you could grate in some ginger and garlic. You could also bruise a stalk of lemongrass with the back of a knife and throw that in for flavor (take it out before eating). I also like to add about a teaspoon each of sesame oil and soy sauce.
Add some cilantro and scallions to garnish and you will have a totally inauthentic but super easy and delicious broth that works for pretty much any Asian-inspired soup.
hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.
If I were going to go vegan on this one, I'd make a mushroom broth base so it has more of a meaty richness than a straight veggie broth. This one is good: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs009/1102520706327/archive/1102799502807.html
Then to get the Vietnamese flavors I'd add 3 or 4 smashed cloves garlic, 1 & 1/2 to 2 inch chunk of ginger cut into coins, 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks, a couple of star anise pods, and some soy sauce and/or white miso. Simmer everything for 20ish minutes. I'd serve with bean sprouts, scallions, basil, mint, cilantro, and your favorite mushrooms.
I forgot to add I would use about a quart of the mushroom stock, and put the rest in the freezer for another day.
Thanks for the ideas! I haven't tried Seitenbacher's vegetable seasoning, so I'll keep an eye out for that.
Sam is a trusted home cook.
I'd second the mushroom broth. A 1/2 sheet of "Kombu" seaweed will make a more Asian flavor. As mentioned make a large batch of stock and freeze, Which would also make a nice base for miso soup. (wakame seaweed, miso stired into the hot, not boiling broth, green onions, mushroom slices, and tofu cubes).
Prehaps only using the Kombu as a flavoring to deploy when seasoning the pho broth. (star anise, ginger, garlic) would make the broth more useful.
Be aware that MSG is naturally found in Kombu Seaweed...in fact in most seaweeds..and even mushrooms and cheeses.
However, I've found that it's rare that people MSG sensitivity react to the seaweeds. YMMV.
For the noodles, the Japaneese Soba Noddles are buckwheat and better for you than processed ramen and rice noodles and quick very quickly--almost instantly.
Then you could use sprouts, mint, basil, shredded cabbage and carrots for the pho.
I have bookmarked a Veg Pho recipe but haven't tried it yet:
It calls for vegetable stock, so the suggestions given should be useful.
I like the look of that veggie pho recipe, thank you! And good suggestion about the Kombu seaweed--I do need more of that. I suppose it's a bad time to mention that I can't eat mushrooms, but thank you very much for the excellent suggestions. It certainly sounds like it's worth giving this another shot.
One thing over looked in veggi stocks is the mouth feel is watery, thin, and not as robust as stocks with animal fats. You can compensate with that with a bit of cornstarch, agar-agar, or arrowroot mixed with water and added to the stock and heated to thicken the stock and replace some of the fat element found in beef based stocks.
IMHO this isn't needed for miso soup stock..or a stock that's intended to be light, but rather for pho and other applications where a richer texture is desired. Also, it's seasonal; in fall and winter a richer stock is often required.