I fell in love with pho while living in D.C. A restaurant called Pho 14 in Columbia Heights serves a delicious vegetarian pho made with a broth made from fuji apples. After I moved to North Carolina I found myself craving that pho and unable to find anything like it. Most pho restaurants that attempt a vegetarian pho broth use something that tastes like mock chicken broth to me. Not at all what I was missing. I decided to try to make it myself. I started by googling “fuji apple pho recipe”. This took me to this blog https://southofparadise.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/vegetarian-pho-with-homemade-fuji-apple-broth/. The person writing it was in the same position as me. Trying to recreate a beloved restaurant meal without any recipe. Using this recipe as a starting place, I’ve been tinkering with the recipe for the last five years, adding in some elements from this recipe when it was published a few years ago https://food52.com/blog/19080-how-pho-genius-andrea-nguyen-makes-a-richer-vegan-broth.
Here is the result.
7 Fuji Apples (cut in half)
3 celery stocks
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
- Put all the ingredients into an instant pot or a 6 quart slow cooker.
- Fill it up with water, leaving 1-2 inches of space at the top
- Cook on high (if your slow cooker has settings) for 10 hours
The idea behind this broth recipe is to make a concentrated broth so that it can be stores easily or combined with boiling water for a hot bowl of pho without having to microwave the broth. I put the broth in jars in the freezer and enjoy pho all season without having to constantly make more broth. I find that the right combination of water to broth is 1/3 broth 2/3 water.
Once you have the broth made, there’s only one more thing you need to make ahead of time before you’re ready for an almost instant delicious weeknight dinner: the tofu. I played around with various options for recreating the delicious deep fried tofu found in pho restaurants. I’ve actually decided that the best no deep-fry option is to bake the tofu. The tofu comes out crispy and tough. It’s not the same as restaurant tofu but it gives me the same textural satisfaction in the bowl. Here’s how I do it:
- Preheat the oven to 425 Fahrenheit
- Cut a block of medium tofu into 2/3 inch squares
- Put 1 tsp of canola oil on a cookie sheet and spread it around.
- Put the tofu on the cookie sheet and spread it around flipping it on all sides to make sure all sides get coated in oil
- Cook the tofu, flipping it halfway through, until all sides are golden.
Now you’re ready for almost instant weeknight pho. Here’s how I do it. The proportions are for 1 large bowl of pho.
2/3 cup of pho broth, left out to room temperature
1 cup Broccoli, in bite size pieces
1/2 Carrot, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 Dried mushroom, in bite size pieces
1/2 cup Vermicelli rice noodles
1/5 block cooked tofu
Lime or lemon juice
- Boil 3 cups of water (I do this in a kettle)
- Put rice noodles into a heat-proof large bowl or pot, breaking them up so that each piece is 2 inches long
- Add the veggies to the bowl
- Add 2 tsp of soy sauce to the bowl
- Once the water is boiling, pour it into the bowl with the noodles and veggies
- Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until everything is soft
- While ingredients are soaking, boil another 1 1/3 cup water
- Put the soft veggies and noodles, along with the tofu, into the bowl with the broth
- Pour in the boiling water
- Add lemon juice, hoison, siracha, basil, and bean sprouts as desired