Famous for its lively, fresh flavors and artfully composed meals, Vietnamese food and cooking is known as the ‘light cuisine’ of Asia. Although Vietnamese cuisine is distinctive, it also has many elements in common with both the Chinese and Thai cooking. I was first introduced to Vietnamese Pho at the aptly named restaurant Pho Pasteur in Boston. My husband did not share my love affair with Pho so I had to learn to cook it for myself. The following recipe is incredibly easy and requires no fancy ingredients. Enjoy!
Vietnamese Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’)
- 3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 slice gingerroot
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot chili-garlic sauce
- 1 cup chopped cooked chicken (or ½ package of tofu)
- 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms or button mushrooms
- 1 bunch of thin rice vermicelli noodles, about 1 in. (2.5 cm)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup shredded mint or basil
- handful bean sprouts (optional)
- 1 lime
1.) Pour broth into large saucepan set over high heat. Add cinnamon, ginger, anise, sugar and chili-garlic sauce. Bring to a boil. Then simmer over medium-low until flavourful, 5 to 10 minute Remove and discard cinnamon and ginger.
2.) Meanwhile, cut tofu into cubes. Remove and discard shiitake stems. Slice mushrooms. Oil a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and tofu. Stir often until tofu is golden around edges, 5 minute Add to broth. (If using chicken, add now.) Bring to a boil, then stir in noodles, separating as you add. Boil gently, stirring often, until noodles are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
3.) Stir in onions and mint, then ladle into soup bowls. Top with bean sprouts and serve with lime wedges.