The first time I had pho was with a co-worker. He was someone who had taught me so much in the lab and would soon be returning to South Korea. He suggested a little Vietnamese restaurant and I happily agreed. I asked him what he recommended and he pointed to the menu full of different kinds of pho. Unsure what pho was and what all the beef options were, I chose chicken (this was prior to the quasi-vegetarianism). It was delicious.
I couldn’t believe I had been missing out on pho for so long. Since then I always suggest it as a lunch spot. Apparently, though, everyone else also thinks it’s an amazing lunch because it’s always packed. The same goes for dinner. Also, it’s closed on Sundays, which for some reason is always the day I think about going there for dinner. I’m sure there are other pho places in the area, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Recently an Asian Market opened up just down the street from me, which has allowed me to create many different Asian and Asian-inspired recipes. Tofu Pho is among these new dishes. My recipe is not authentic, so please don’t judge it as such. However, it’s a decent approximation and it fills my desire for pho at home.
One side note: If you haven’t brought Hoisin or Srirachi yet, you will need them for this recipe because adding the sauces are half the fun of pho. Also, they are great in other dishes.
Tofu PhoThis is not an authentic version. 1 quart vegetable broth 1 ½ teaspoon Chinese Five spice 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 package tofu 3 tablespoons canola oil ½ package thin rice noodles 1 cups bean sprouts ½ cup Thai basil leaves 1 lime, cut into wedges Hoisin Sriracha
Drain tofu by wrapping it in paper towels and placing it on top of a flat strainer, with a plate upside down on top and a heavy can on the plate. If you don’t have a flat strainer, you can wrap it in extra paper towels and place it between two plates with a heavy can on top. Allow tofu to drain for at least 30 minutes.
In a large pot, add the broth, Chinese Five Spice and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low to keep warm while preparing other ingredients.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan or wok over medium high heat. Cut tofu into ½ inch cubes and carefully add to pan. Brown all or most of the sides of the tofu, 8-10 minutes. Remove to a plate with a paper towel to drain.
Meanwhile, cook rice noodles according to package directions.
In a large soup bowl, place a handful of the noodles into the bottom. Place another handful of bean sprouts and tofu on top of the noodles. Add 5-6 basil leaves and a squeeze of a lime wedge. Ladle over enough broth to cover the noodles, bean sprouts and tofu. Continue with other bowls.
Serve hot with Sriracha and Hoisin at the discretion of the diner.