Saturday, November 17, 2012

Vegetarian Pho & Banh Mi (feat. my new favorite tofu)

Last month I got married, and went to California for a week-long honeymoon road trip.  The end of the road was San Francisco, and one chilly morning when Chris went running, I took myself out for breakfast pho.  I can see why it's a morning meal in Vietnam - hot broth is very comforting in lieu of a warm bed.

Denver has plenty of delicious, delicious Vietnamese food, but I would still like to get a pho broth down, since none of it is in our neighborhood.  Last weekend I gave it a shot for a group of friends, using this recipe.  I think it really does need fish sauce for the flavor to come out right, and vegetarian "fish sauce" is not too hard to find, so don't skip that if you can help it.  Also, leaving the broth in the fridge overnight before straining out the flavor elements helped the flavor a lot. 

On the night I served it, I brought the broth to a boil and briefly boiled bok choy leaves, small squares of tofu, and paper-thin slices of onion in it.  Serve spooned over hot noodles, with jalapeno slices, lime wedges, sprouts, leaves of basil, mint and cilantro (and the wonderful lemony ngo om if you can get it), sriracha, and plum sauce on the side.  

We also served banh mi with tofu for vegetarians and pork for meat-eaters.  This tofu banh mi recipe, which advises freezing your tofu and then caramelizing it with onions in simple syrup with pepper and fish sauce, is a stunner - definitely the best tofu I've ever made; I can't wait to repurpose it for the holidays.  Served on Vietnamese baguettes (which I understand have some rice flour in them so they're a bit more chewy) with cilantro, jalapeno, pickled carrot and daikon (which you can buy at a Vietnamese market and skip making your own), cucumber, and a spread of mayo + sriracha and small amounts each of melted butter, honey, and fish sauce.

Oh, and I forgot to mention!  Dessert was red bean cakes from the same Vietnamese bakery where I picked up bread, served w/homemade green tea ice cream.

Sadly, the only pic I took in the flurry of getting everything on the table was the herbs and such waiting to be tossed into bowls of pho:

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