Andrea Nguyen's Vegan "Chicken" Phở

By • February 15, 2017 8 Comments

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Author Notes: Nguyen has thoughtfully recreated the characteristics that make other pho broths swirl with that delicate teeter-totter of comfort and sweet spice. But that doesn’t make it fragile. You could take these techniques and apply them to other vegetable broths, particularly the nutritional yeast addition, an unconventional ingredient to add the savory umami and richness of a chicken broth. Adapted slightly from The Phở Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam's Favorite Soup and Noodles (Ten Speed, 2017).Genius Recipes

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Serves 4

Broth

  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 brimming teaspoon coriander seeds
  • Chubby 1-inch (2.5 cm) section ginger, peeled, thickly sliced, and bruised
  • 1 medium-large (9 oz | 270 g) yellow onion, halved and thickly sliced
  • 7 cups (1.75 l) cold water
  • 1 small (4 oz | 115 g) Fuji apple, peeled, cored, and cut into thumbnail-size chunks
  • 2 medium celery stalks (4 oz | 115 g total), coarsely chopped
  • 1 large (6 oz | 180 g) carrot, cut into thick rounds (scrub and use unpeeled, if you like)
  • 1 pound (450 g) napa cabbage leaves, halved lengthwise then cut crosswise into large pieces
  • 1 cup (.9 oz | 25 g) coarsely chopped cilantro sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast powder, or 3 1/2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (.5 oz | 15 g total)
  • 2/3 cup (150 ml) hot water
  • About 1 teaspoon organic sugar, or 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
  1. Make the broth: Put the clove and coriander seeds in a 6- to 8-quart (6 to 8 l) pressure cooker (Note: to make the broth in a stockpot instead, see step 6). Over medium heat, toast the spices for several minutes, shaking or stirring, until fragrant. Add the ginger and onion. Stir until aromatic, 45 to 60 seconds. A tinge of brown is okay.
  2. Add 4 cups (1 L) of the cold water to arrest the cooking process. Add the apple, celery, carrot, cabbage, cilantro, salt, and the remaining 3 cups (720 ml) cold water. Lock the lid in place. Bring to high pressure (15 psi) over high heat on a gas or induction stove, or medium heat on an electric stove. Adjust the heat to maintain pressure, signaled by a gentle, steady flow of steam coming out of the cooker’s valve. Cook for 15 minutes, or slightly longer if your cooker’s high setting is less than 15 psi.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small liquid measuring cup, combine the nutritional yeast with the hot water. Let sit about 10 minutes, until separated into two layers. Carefully pour the yellow liquid into a bowl and set aside. Discard the khaki sludge.
  4. When the broth is done, slide the cooker to a cool burner and allow the pressure to decrease naturally, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you for safety. Let rest for 5 minutes, then strain through a muslin-lined mesh strainer positioned over a pot (see page 28 for guidance); briefly cool, then twist and press the muslin to yield more broth. Discard the solids. You should have about 8 cups (2 l) total.
  5. To use right away, season the broth with the nutritional yeast liquid, sugar (or maple syrup), and up to 1⁄2 teaspoon extra salt. Aim for a savory-sweet, somewhat chicken-like flavor; warming the proteins in the broth later on will add depth, so go light on the saltiness here. (If cooking in advance, partially cover the unseasoned broth, let cool, then refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Prep the nutritional yeast and season the broth before using.)
  6. Notes: To make the broth without a pressure cooker, use a 6- to 8-quart (6 to 8 l)stockpot. Ready the same set of broth ingredients but increase the water to 9 cups (2.25 l) total. Toast the spices, sauté the aromatics, then add the water, produce, and salt. Partially cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour to yield a golden-hued broth. Strain and season with the nutritional yeast liquid, sugar (or maple syrup), and salt. Prep and bowl assembly is the same as above.

Phở Bowls

  • 1 (14 oz | 420 g) block extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce
  • About 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
  • 10 ounces (300 g) dried narrow flat rice noodles
  • 1/2 small (2 oz | 60 g) yellow or red onion, thinly sliced against the grain and soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • 2 thinly sliced green onions, green parts only
  • 1/4 cup (.2 oz | 5 g) chopped fresh cilantro, leafy tops only
  • Pepper (optional)
  • Garnishes like bean sprouts, sprigs of mint, Thai basil, lime wedges, sliced fresh hot chiles
  1. Cut the block of tofu crosswise into 2 pieces, then cut each piece crosswise into 4 thick pieces; imagine big dominoes or Zippo lighters. You’ll have 8 pieces total. Put into a medium or large nonstick skillet. Drizzle in the soy sauce and coat both sides.
  2. Cook over medium heat until sizzling, seared, and dry looking, about 5 minutes. There will be little moisture visible in the skillet. Drizzle the oil over the tofu, then use a spatula to flip the pieces.
  3. Let cook for 4 to 5 minutes to sear and brown the second side. Shake the skillet to check if the tofu will dislodge from the bottom. When there is a little movement, use a spatula to flip the tofu over to add extra color and character to the first side, if needed. Aim for a rich, mottled brown surface with dark brown edges. When satisfied, transfer to a rack to cool and dry for about 5 minutes before using. Notes The tofu can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Let warm up to room temperature before using. Gently refry to return a bit of crispness to the tofu, if you like.
  4. Prep and assemble the bowls: While the broth cooks, or about 30 minutes before serving, ready the ingredients for the bowls. Soak dried noodles in hot water until pliable and opaque. Drain, rinse, and drain well. Divide among 4 soup bowls.
  5. Let the Pan-Seared Tofu or other preferred toppings warm to room temperature. Meanwhile, place the onion, green onion, and cilantro in separate bowls and line them up with the noodles and pepper for a pho assembly line.
  6. Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat. At the same time, fill a pot with water and bring to a rolling boil for the noodles. Warm the tofu in the broth, if needed, then set aside.
  7. For each bowl, place a portion of the noodles in a noodle strainer or mesh sieve and dunk in the boiling water. When the noodles are soft, 5 to 60 seconds, pull the strainer from the pot, shake it to release excess water, then empty the noodles into a bowl. Top each bowl with the tofu. Crown with onion, green onion, and cilantro. Sprinkle on some pepper.
  8. Check the broth flavor again, add extra seasonings as needed, raise the heat, and bring it to a boil. Ladle about 2 cups (480 ml) broth into each bowl. Serve immediately with any extras at the table.

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Topics: Soups, Vegan Cooking, Genius Recipes, Vegetarian Cooking, Vietnamese Cooking