Ingredients (Serves 3)
Pho (like po not like fo) is to the Vietnamese what chips are to us, and let’s be honest – it looks way more exciting (and easier on the arteries). Every street has a pho vendor and there are countless chains which stock almost nothing else. Essentially it’s a broth soup made up of rice noodles, herbs and meat (usually beef). Obviously we’re not putting beef in! Instead we shall be using shitake mushrooms (regular ones are fine if you’re not in the mood for fannying about) and tofu. Don’t groan.
Tofu is a much misunderstood thing. It is the curds of soy milk, which is made from soy beans; so it’s a much more natural option than mycoproteins like Quorn. Also, tofu is not, and was never intended to be, a meat substitute. That’s mostly why people in Britain don’t get it – they just barbeque a slab of it, stick it in a bun with ketchup and then moan that it tastes like an old beer mat. They’re right – like that it does taste like an old beer mat. Tofu should have a light spongey consistency, because that’s exactly what it is – a sponge. Let it marinate in spices and sauces for a bit, absorbing all those flavours, and all of a sudden: Hello tofu! There’s a reason that across Asia, tofu is more popular than almost all dairy products and that’s that they know how to do it right.
1. Boil the 3 pints of vegetable broth and add the shitake mushrooms. Turn the heat off and leave to soak for at least an hour, preferably two or longer.
2. Take the mushrooms out and keep the broth. Add the spring onions, ginger and salt and bring back to the boil. When it's fully boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Whilst that's doing it's thing, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and tofu and saute for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add the hoisin sauce and sesame seeds and cook until the sauce thickens. Take off the heat and let it sit there marinating for a few minutes longer.
5. Divide the rice noodles and bean sprouts between the bowls and pour the broth over. Add more salt if necessary.
6. Add your mushrooms and tofu and sprinkle liberally with slices of red chilli, shredded basil and coriander and a squirt fresh of lime.