Believe it or not, there’s been a recipe that those-in-the-know have requested from me since long before I became a food blogger. The recipe came about due to my (at the time) obsession with low-calorie items, and veganism (also, at the time), which doesn’t matter. I had straight-up friends that were first generation Americans that loved the recipe (shout out to Mellie!), and I have yet to make a ‘bad batch,’ despite the fact that I kinda/sorta wing it every time. (You’ve been warned: My instructions are, as per usual, not 100% clear on measurements.) Know this: My pho is good, and you can tweak it to your meat-loving heart’s desire. If you’re vegan? You’re welcome!
I never said this recipe was authentic, but it more than does that job. To start, you’ll want to procure:
- 1-2 lemongrass stalks
- 2-3 star anise
- 1″ of ginger (peeled, sliced)
- 1 cinnamon stick (or dash of cinnamon, sometimes I omit it and just use the star anise by itself)
- 5-10 mushrooms (your preference, and these are what gives the super-meaty taste to the broth)
- protein of choice (chicken, beef, shrimp, tofu)
- soy sauce
- green onion
- cooking oil (I do a blend of chili, toasted sesame, and vegetable, but that’s not super important)
- noodles (I use the 0 calorie shirataki, you can use regular – depends on your carb preference)
- vegetable (or beef or chicken) stock
- 2-4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 an onion
- jalapenos/thai chilis
- sriracha and/or garlic-chili sauce
- and the super optional Chinese 5 spice powder
Let’s start by sautéing the star anise, ginger, garlic, and onion. You kind of want to burn it, honestly. Don’t char it until it’s unrecognizable or anything, but definitely put a black edge on those ingredients. Once you have that done, in your delicious chili oil blend (or regular oil!), you can add water to the pot and a bouillon cube or 2 of the stock of your choosing. Turn the heat up on a separate burner, and sautee your chosen protein in oil (again, I like to use chili/toasted sesame). Add the mushrooms and remaining ingredients (sans noodles and toppings such as: green onions, herbs, peppers) to the pot of broth. Let it all cook together for as long as possible; I’d say 20 minutes at a minimum, but I can vouch for making this, saving the leftover (half a pot) broth for the next day, then adding more water and having excellent results.
If you’re using shirataki noodles, just follow the instructions on the pack, and add them to the broth when ready. The same goes for any other type of noodles, really. Shake some soy sauce into the broth, and don’t be shy. I know most would say you should have drained the ingredients out of the broth, but I prefer to enjoy the sliced ginger, and pieces of garlic in my soup; use a slotted spoon to remove the inedibles (star anise, lemongrass) before serving. Add copious amounts of sriracha, basil, lime (go easy), cilantro, and peppers. Voila!