Monday, April 27, 2009

Vietnamese vegetarian phở

This is a Vietnamese soup... phở (called phở chay for the vegetarian variety I love). I actually eat if for breakfast on a regular basis. If I don't already seem weird enough after reading my blog, that must have sealed the deal. But look at this soup and tell me it wouldn't be welcome on the table even at breakfast! Ace has been known to eat this stuff by the gallon...but not at breakfast. I am alone in my early morning noodle-fest.

It's one of my favorite things on earth for a lot of reasons, but one thing that stands out most is the Q&E factor. That would be the "quick and easy" factor. It takes all of 3 minutes to cook the noodles because they are made of rice (typically rice and water and sometimes a little tapioca...which is astonishing and wonderful news to all my gluten free readers!) I use several cups of vegetable broth with some fresh cilantro, mint, green onions, mung bean sprouts, and carrots. Sometimes I go so far as to add meat, but I prefer the lighter "no meat" version...especially at breakfast when really, who wants a heavy meal? When it has meat, it is typically sliced super thin and cooked with the hot boiling broth. Also, the fresh herbs and things are served to the side quite often and then added according to a person's preference. If I am just serving it to the family, I do it in a large gallon pot. It just seems more practical. I've been told that the larger flat noodles and my use of green onions is more typical of the northern parts of Vietnam and that the vermicelli noodles are more southern. So there's your random fact of the day. Don't quote me, as I am not an expert on this. Seriously not. Just love the food. This is one of my recipes that I kinda "eyeball"...not super exact measurements for the pot of soup stuff...just to taste and feelings that day. Note that the herbs here are fresh. Wow does it make a huge difference! Thanks again to Wendy for the gorgeous herbs!
Vegetarian phở ( phở chay)
7 oz package of flat dry rice noodles (Shahe is the brand I like but there are tons out there)
6 cups boiling vegetable stock (or any meat stock works...beef being among the most popular)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cups Thai Basil (or whatever you can find...or be given free huh Wendy?!)
1/2 cup thin sliced green onion
1/2 cups thin sliced or julienne carrots or mung bean sprouts (or both)
2T rice vinegar
2T fish sauce
1-2 tsp chili sauce (to taste)
lemon or lime wedges

Add the noodles to the boiling stock and cook 3 minutes. Add all remaining fresh ingredients and serve. Squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice over the soup and enjoy. It's that easy. No wonder I love it! I dare you to try it...just once for breakfast.
There you go. If you omit the fish's gluten free!


J. P. said...

oh my gosh! That looks amazing! I was reading it thinking, sounds wonderful, but never in my kitchen (Cilantro, and can't begin to imagine that beautiful soup without the Cilantro) and then you said the herbs are often served on the side. Problem solved! and how budget friendly is this? I'm thinking WAY.--Lisa

Chef Tess said...

It's so budget friendly it's almost scary. We get away with spending a little over a dollar for a gallon or so. The noodles at the oriental market are 59 cents!...homemade vegetable stock using veggies from the farmer's market (soon to be free from the garden--per Wendy). Super budget friendly! Oh...and kick it up with some caramelized garlic and onions for even more flavor. Yikes is good!

Shellee said...

I've been looking for a reason to use our fish sauce. I think we are going to have to try this soon!
We need to go to LeeLee's Market together so you can show me what noodles to get for what dish.

Chef Tess said...

I actually got the noodles at the market up by you! It also has frog legs, quail eggs and salt&vinegar pork rinds. Crazy stuff! Let's shop girl!