Growing up we lived next door to a Vietnamese family, who in my book, had the best smelling house in the neighborhood. My sister and I spent a lot of time playing card games and building play-doh monsters in their garage with their son who was around our age, and I remember always being able to smell what his mom was cooking up inside. It was totally different than anything I was used to at my house, and I always wondered what sort of mysterious ingredients she must be using in there.

We never really got to go into the house much to investigate (she wasn’t too fond of “white devils”), but on one lucky evening, she asked if my sister and I would like to stay and eat “Pho”, which my little ears heard as “fur”. We ran next door to ask my moms permission, and though she raised an eyebrow when we mentioned what we were eating (she says all she could picture was their small furry dog), she said yes, and I think it was probably that night that I fell in love with Vietnamese cuisine.

It’s been years and years since I’ve had Pho (for some reason, I can’t find any non-meat version in Orlando), so today I set off on my quest for ingredients to make some vegan pho.

The ingredients:

Essentials for the broth:

And the result:

Broth ingredients:

2-3 cinnamon sticks
4 cloves
2 pods of star anise
1 medium size onion cut into several large chunks
8 cloves of garlic, halved
1 inch piece of ginger, coarsely sliced
8 cups vegetable broth (I use Vegebase and water)
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
salt to taste

Soup ingredients:

1 package of cooked rice noodles
8 oz package of seitan, cut into slices
a few scallions, finely chopped
2 cups of bean sprouts
one bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
hoisin sauce

Put the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, onion, garlic and ginger in a large sauce pan and cook over medium heat until everything is slightly charred. Now and the broth and soy sauce and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the broth into another dish with a fine mesh sieve and dispose of the cooked spices/veggies.

Put some cooked rice noodles in a large bowl and top with some seitan. Ladle broth on top and add desired amount of sprouts, chopped cilantro, and if you’d like, a little fresh lime, hoison sauce, and/or crushed peanuts.

Not quite the taste I remember, but it was still pretty good 🙂

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