Vegetarian Pho

Pho is the national dish of Vietnam. Cooked noodles with blanched vegetables and protein are served with salty broth and topped with garnishes. Pho pronounced 'fuh' is a street food in Vietnam. It is also one of the best known dishes from Vietnam.

I was introduced to this dish by a friend back in Arizona. We worked a few blocks apart and caught up with each other over lunch once a month. Her favorite restaurant was a Vietnamese place and I had my first bowl of Pho there. Soon it was the dish to order whenever we visited that restaurant.

Authentic Pho is not a vegetarian dish. The broth is the hardest to make as it needs fish sauce. I had read somewhere that fermented bean curd provides a taste very similar to the fish sauce. I tried that today and it worked well. It is however, an acquired taste.

You will need
For the broth
1/2 onion
1 carrot
2 star anise
4 cloves
3" cinnamon
1 tbsp. coriander seeds
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp. fermented bean curd
2 tbsp. soya sauce

For the blanched vegetables and protein
10 oz extra firm tofu
1 small bok choy
1 carrot
5-6 Shitake mushrooms
2 tbsp. olive oil

For the garnish
1 scallion
1/2 lime
1/4 onion
10-15 cilantro leaves
Hoisin sauce

For the noodles
10 oz rice noodles

To make the broth
Broil the onion on high until charred. Chop the carrots. In a pan heat the cloves, star anise, cinnamon and coriander seeds. Add the charred onion and carrots.

Add 6 cups of heated vegetable stock. When it comes to a boil lower the heat and let it simmer. Add the fermented bean curd and soy sauce. Keep the sauce hot until everything else is ready.

To blanch the vegetables and for the protein
Bring water to a boil. Separate the leaves of the bok choy. Cut off the stems and chop into matchsticks. Wash, peel and chop the carrots to a size of matchsticks. Chop the shitake mushrooms.

Drop each of the above into boiling water and blanch for a couple of minutes. Remove from the liquid and drain. Keep aside.

Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch slices and fry in a pan with a tbsp of olive oil. Cut the slices into 1/2 in by 2 in pieces and keep aside.

To make the garnish
Chop the scallion into tiny pieces. Cut the lime in wedges. Finely chop the onions.

To put it all together
Cook noodles as per package instructions. Strain the broth and save the liquid. Bring all the ingredients to the table and prepare the bowl. Place the garnishes in a dish for easy access.

First place the noodles in the bowl. Then place the tofu and the blanched vegetables.

Next ladle the broth over the noodles until they are partially submerged.

Enjoy hot Pho!

This is my entry for week one, day two of BM #37 for the theme National Dish. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#37.


  1. This is kind of the soup we like, light and broth kind of soups. Bookmarking the recipe. I will try the non-veg version. Soup looks delicious!

  2. Lovely soup with a lot of ingredients! Looks nice :)

    1. It does have a lot of ingredients but it comes together quickly

  3. hmm interesting and easy name to remember this lovely dish

  4. Soupy broths / perfect for te winter .. Bookmarking this ;))

  5. How adventurous of you to try this Varada, I won't dare try it myself..:)..looks very good and as you said some are acquired taste and I can imagine that..

    1. Srivalli, I have had Pho before several times so it was not new to me. Besides, my family enjoys trying out new foods from different regions of the world.

  6. Very interesting..I am sure my husband would love this soup!

  7. I've heard about this dish, but never tried it myself. Will have to see if I like it or not :-)

  8. Wow this looks yum. I am going to try it out.


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