During our time there, we walked the streets of Hanoi, taking in the smells of motorbike exhaust and meats from the street vendors. We sailed Halong Bay, relishing the beauty and feeling the hot sun soak into our faces. We watched the people as they went about their lives, and even though the setting was quite different than our country, there was a particular charm that simply couldn’t be captured in a photo.
We left feeling enamored with the Vietnamese culture – the food, the landscape, the somber, yet smiling people – and yet also sad to be leaving after only three short days. I’ve reminisced about our time there many times since, but it wasn’t until today that I felt I was transplanted back to those days. As my kitchen was infiltrated with the aroma of ginger, basil, chili peppers and mushrooms I was suddenly once again meandering down the streets of Hanoi, sidestepping tiny children and stray dogs, and taking it all in. And that first bite of Vegetarian Pho – oh that first bite! My mouth was filled with noodles and warm broth. My eyes began to water as I felt the heat begin to spread. I tasted Vietnam.
Vegetarian Pho – a classic Vietnamese dish
recipe adapted from here
Ingredients for broth
- 8 cups water
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
- 10 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 12 sliced rounds of fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp low-sodium tamari
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 5 fresh basil stems – set aside leaves
- 5 cilantro stems – set aside leaves
Ingredients for Pho
- 8 ounces Thai rice noodles
- 8 ounces extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 2 tbsp low sodium tamari
- 2 cups soybean sprouts
- 4 green onions, cut in 2 inch sections
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup spicy basil leaves
- 1 chili pepper, sliced
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup arugula
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place tofu slices into a shallow baking dish.
- Combine olive oil, 1 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar, molasses and tamari and mix well. Pour marinade over tofu, and turn tofu to coat both sides. Bake for 25 minutes (I like mine well-done!).
- Fill a large stock pot with water. Add vegetable broth, shallots, onion, mushrooms, anise star, garlic ginger, brown sugar, vinegar, pepper, cinnamon sticks, 3 tbsp tamari, basil stems and cilantro stems. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Prepare to be engulfed with the smells of Vietnam.
- With about 5 minutes simmering time remaining, bring a small pot of water to boil. Add rice noodles and allow to boil for about 3 minutes. When soft, drain and rinse with cold water.
- Strain broth and return to pot. Discard solid ingredients.
- Divide noodles among 6 bowls. Pour broth over noodles and top with arugula, green onions, chili pepper slices, tofu, and bean sprouts. Serve cilantro, basil and lime wedges on the side to be stirred into soup as desired.
The husband and I enjoyed this dish with a side of vegetarian summer rolls and a spicy peanut sauce. A perfect pairing.
Thank you all so much for putting in a vote for my entry in the Project Food Blog Challenge #1! I was so honored, happy and admittedly a bit surprised to advance to the next challenge. When I first began to plot my take on challenge #2, a classic dish from another country, I knew without a doubt what I wanted to do. That was the easy part.
The hard part was finding all the right ingredients! I first stopped by my farmer’s market for the fresh herbs, cilantro, peppers and onion. Next, I headed to our local ethnic foods store where I picked up many of the rest of the ingredients. I had a little trouble finding watercress, so I opted for arugula plus a dash of black pepper instead.
I loved making this dish – it’s something I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to make had it not been for this challenge, but recreating an experience that was so impactful completely made my day.
And I have a feeling I’ll be reliving it for days to come considering the large amount of Pho in my fridge and the smell that has reached to the far depths of my house.
I would love to have your vote for this challenge if you deem my entry worthy. You can vote here starting tomorrow!!
other posts you might enjoy...
47 Responses to “Project Food Blog Challenge #2: a Vietnamese Classic”
- Project Food Blog Challenge #2: a Vietnamese Classic|ChiaSeedMe … | Collection Of Asian Food Recipes - [...] View original post here: Project Food Blog Challenge #2: a Vietnamese Classic|ChiaSeedMe … [...]
- 2010: a look back part II|ChiaSeedMe - [...] fun thoughout the month, stretching and challenging myself in new ways. I made it to rounds one, two and ...