Faux Pho - Lunch

This is almost a daily lunch for me in these pandemic days of 2020/2021. Warm, soothing, adjustable, and tasty. Exactly what the world isn't at the moment. Enjoy! Many of the ingredients are powders just because it's easier to have them on-hand, but if you've got fresh garlic and ginger, by all means, dose it up. (Onion powder adds a zing all on its own so I use it no matter what.) I substitute and add spices pretty much at will with this recipe. The ones I've included here are the stand-bys, but by all means, use your imagination and create. Also, add meat or tofu! I smoke tofu a lot and it goes well in the soup. I've used turkey, chicken, and beef and everything just seems to work. It also works with ramen noodles.

Now that I have it typed up and am looking at it, the recipe looks damned intimidating. Trust me, it's not. I make the soup following these same steps and have it cooked and eaten within an hour. And during that hour, I complete not only the bowl of soup but the daily Wall Street Journal Crossword, or at least the majority of it. Try the recipe and you'll see what I mean. Since you essentially stir fry the veggies in the same pan you cook the soup in, you dirty up two pans and a bowl, and perhaps a knife and cutting board, so clean-up is incredibly easy.

Ingredients

You don't need ALL of these ingredients, you can use any you like, or throw in some of your own.

  • Rice noodles - a single serving is about a loose handful with the tip of your thumb touching the first knuckle of your middle finger
  • 2 tbs Canola oil
  • 1 tsp+ Garlic powder (to taste)
  • 1tsp+ Onion powder (to taste)
  • 1 tsp+ Ginger powder (to taste)
  • 3 - 5 Star anise cloves (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 or 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce (Tamari is better!)
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock (Target now carries pho broth, it's under their Good and Gather label)
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 tsp+ Sesame oil - it's a personal preference issue, I like sesame oil and think it imparts an authentic Asian flavor. Some don't care for it. Let your taste guide you.
  • Dash of Mirin, more or less to taste
  • Dash of Wright's Liquid Smoke (I use this sometimes to add diversity)
  • Dash of Sake - if you've got it, use it. It doesn't hurt to take a swig after adding the dash to the soup, either.
  • 2 Green onions, sliced
  • 2 Tbs Cilantro or however much you'd like
  • Pickled ginger - however much you'l like
  • 5 or 6 Jalepeño pepper slices
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Sriracha
  • Sashimi togarishi (chile powder)
  • Furikake (seaweed (nori), salt, and sesame seeds - adds great flavor to soup.)

What To Do With Them

  1. Put rice noodles in a small frying pan and cover with hot water. Let it sit on the stove while you get the rest of the ingredients ready.
  2. Prep all of your ingredients so you can just toss them in.
  3. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce/tamari, star anise, and oil to a pan.
  4. Heat the sauce/soup pan with the above ingredients over medium-high heat for a couple of minutes - literally like 120 seconds, maybe more depending on your stove. 
  5. Add the sliced carrots, onion, and celery. Stir them around until most are lying flat in the pan and are coated with the brown sugar/soy mixture. Let it sit on the fire for a minute or two, then shake and stir.
  6. Add the sesame oil to the veggies, garlic powder, onion powder, sashimi togarishi, and ginger powder. Stir/shake the pan and let it heat for another minute or two
  7. Add the pho, chicken, or beef stock.
  8. Add the white vinegar, mirin, Wright's Liquid Smoke, sake, and anything else you'd like
  9. Bring the stock to a boil
  10. Meanwhile, drain the noodles and leave them in the colander/sieve. Refill the pan you soaked them in with hot water, put it on the stove, and bring to a boil along with the stock.
  11. When the broth and ingredients come to a boil, turn off the heat and let it rest until the water for the noodles boils. You only have to boil the pre-soaked noodles for a minute, so when the water boils, add the soaked noodles, pour the broth and veggies into a bowl, drain the noodles and add them to the broth. Season with the furikake, add the sliced green onions, cilantro, pickled ginger, and whatever else you feel like putting in and enjoy!