I occasionally post Instagram photos of my “pho” bowls of soup since I started the practice almost a year ago. My Vietnamese friend, Tom , just dressed me down for calling my soup pho. True pho relies on beef bones, roasted in the oven and then put into a stock for the soup. Not for me. Too cumbersome and time consuming to make.
I have had several requests to post the recipe for my daily “faux pho”, so here it is. (This recipe makes one big serving, and now takes me just 15 minutes to make, and would probably feed two normal folks.) 🙂
1 pint of water
stock – I have used the small jars of “Better than Bouillon” pastes, which are available in chicken, beef, vegetable, and now mushroom flavors. I now favor vegetarian powders, or vegan/vegetable boullion/herb cubes .
Into the boiling stock I toss chopped vegetables. I have vegetable gardens going outside, so the ingredients here are typically seasonal: greens, and onions in the spring; squash, more greens, peppers, string beans, and corn in the summer; in the fall there are beets, carrots, Chinese cabbage, and more greens. This year, I grew jalapenos, so I slice a couple pieces into the pot. In the depths of winter we have to buy from the supermarket.
I usually include protein, which is increasingly vegetarian as well, although I sometimes put in leftover pieces of chicken, beef, or pork. Lately, my go-to protein is tempeh, cubed or crumbled, and then quickly browned up and crisped in ghee ( clarified butter). I will do the same with local tofu.
Rice noodles are my most frequent carbohydrate addition. I have a small postal scale where I weight out my single serving of 50 grams of dry noodles. They go in last, and cook for no more than 3 minutes.
At this point, I remove the pot from the burner and let it cool a bit before I add the finishing flavor touches. I add fermented ingredients ( which are not as nutritious when boiled) : a healthy dollop of kimchi, a tablespoon of miso paste, and a scant amount of black bean sauce with chili. I vary the types of miso that I use. Too much black bean sauce is painfully hot, so I am careful to adjust to my own taste. I am continually amazed at how rich this broth tastes.
I have perennial bunching Chinese onions outside, and often snip a couple of stalks for garnish.
How to Eat: Chopsticks! Even if you are not skilled at using them, try this: struggle through the hand coordination that will be required to be functional at using them. It’s good for your brain to learn new things, especially when it involves your body. Using chopsticks also forces me to slow down when I eat. When I have reduced the size of the pieces of food to make using the chopsticks practical, I finish off with my spoon.
Note: This dish can be taken on day hikes, where it can be prepared relatively quickly if you bring a backpacking stove. Precut the veggies and protein ingredients and place in a plastic container. The stock bases and the flavor enhancers can be in a smaller separate container and added at the end. Instant rice noodles shorten the boil time. Impress your backpacking friends by treating them to a fresh bowl of pho, even though it is really faux pho !
(approximately 500 calories/ 1 pint large bowl)